DGCA to bring 10,000 CLP holders under scanner

New Delhi: Aviation regulator DGCA plans to bring under the scanner over 10,000 commercial pilot license (CPL) holders and conduct third-party audit of all flying schools in the country in the wake of cases of forgery behind securing of licences coming to light.

As the forgery cases have given rise to fears that travellers` life is being endangered by incompetent pilots, the regulator is planning a slew of steps to check the malaise.

Apart from this, the regulator is also worried about the problems faced by a large number of Indian youths, who go abroad for training and return with fake or invalid licenses, after spending lakhs of rupees.

Besides the six cases of pilots using forged documents to get their licenses, "we have got some more suspicious cases, but there is nothing confirmed as yet and investigations are going on," DGCA chief E K Bharat Bhushan told PTI here.

The six cases of forged documents that have come to light are two each from air carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet and one each from Air India and MDLR.

While all the 4,000-odd holders of Airline Transport Pilot Licenses (ATPLs) are currently being probed, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is "considering looking into all the CPLs", he said. There are over 10,000 CPL holders in the country.

In a bid to combat fudging of records, the DGCA is determined to have an online option for students, beginning with "at least in some (examination) centres, by July," the Director General said, adding, "We are working with the National Informatics Centre on this project" that should be in place soon.

Asked whether flying training schools were following stringent standards laid down by the regulator, Bhushan said: "There have been cases … there is suspicion that at least some of the flying hours that they are logging in the student`s log books, are not genuine".

He also indicated that problems relating to training infrastructure have also been found.

These training academies provide flight training and issue CPLs to the successful students. A separate set of aviation regulations or Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) have also been framed for such institutions.

"I want to examine the condition and quality of training they are giving. We have to ensure that the conditions and quality of training are maintained. My intention is to have a team from outside, a third-party systematic audit of these schools," Bhushan said.

There are about 40 flying schools in India.

Under the CAR, a flying school gets a license which is valid for a year. It is renewed after a DGCA inspection and "on satisfying that the institutes maintain their required capability. The inspection is carried out as per the standardised check-list", the DGCA chief said.

In this context, the DGCA plans to get the quality of training being imparted by such flying schools abroad examined by the regulatory bodies in those countries and organisations like the Federation Aviation Administration of the US.

"We have plans to examine the quality of training given in some of these flying schools (abroad) by some international bodies or our counterparts like the Federation Aviation Administration to authenticate the quality of training imparted by these centres," Bhushan said.

The DGCA was also considering sending a team of his officials to visit some such flying schools abroad, where many Indians have been getting pilot training.

Asked whether DGCA would consider adopting radio frequency identification documents (RFIDs) for pilot licenses which cannot be fudged, he said this was part of the overall computerisation project which has been on since 2007.

"This project, which is estimated to cost Rs 350 crore, is in the DPR (Detailed Project Report) stage", Bhushan said.

On the issue of strengthening rules to hire foreign pilots by Indian carriers, he said the regulations have been made more stringent.

"We have made medical tests mandatory for them. If one is above 40 years, then they will have to undergo medical check-up twice a year", he said.

Acknowledging staff shortage in crucial areas of DGCA operations, Bhushan said, "500 new posts have been created" and the recruitment process for some of them has begun.

"However, the process of filling up of all these posts would take two-three years," he said.

"UPSC and Department of Personnel Training are being consulted for framing of rules of recruitment, then posts would be advertised. For some posts interviews have started…

but it will take 2-3 years before we have our boots on the ground," the Director General said.