Expert panel examining pilot selection process

New Delhi: An experts committee, set up to plug loopholes in the pilot licensing system and revamp it, is examining the prevailing system of examination for selecting pilots as well as aircraft engineers.

The broad-based committee of the Civil Aviation Ministry, which has already held its first meeting to suggest ways and means to make the system fool-proof, would also examine the introduction of an effective system of cross-verification of documents required for issue of licences by the aviation regulator DGCA.

The Committee, headed by Joint Secretary in the Ministry Rohit Nandan, has sought suggestions and views from the public and all stakeholders, an official spokesperson said today.

The panel also has representatives from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Indian Air Force, National Informatics Centre, Air India and independent experts.

Besides recommending changes to make the examination system "secure, credible, efficient and in line with modern and best practices", it would suggest introduction of electronic technology in conduct of examinations and licensing procedure and processes.

"In the short-term, this Committee will suggest steps to plug the loopholes in the system, if any. In the long-run, they will consider technology-driven solutions having less human interface," Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary S N A Zaidi had told PTI earlier.

The Ministry, he had said, was "seriously pursuing this matter" and hoped concrete suggestions would emerge after the 12-member panel submits its report in four to five weeks.

It would go into the systemic loopholes which could be responsible for the charges of bribery and issuing of flying licences to pilots on the basis of forged documents and recommend measures to check them, official sources said.

Among the measures to check fudging of records to secure pilot licenses, the DGCA has decided to conduct third party audits of all flying schools in the country and started evolving new procedures to strengthen the existing audit process. Such audits are carried out annually for renewal of licences of these schools.

Apart from its own team of officials, the aviation regulator is planning to rope in independent experts and even some of its retired and experienced officials to carry out the audit of over 40 flying schools across the country, they said.

It is also planning to create an online national registry of pilots which would have a complete dossier on them, including their licenses and qualifications. This would address the problem of fudging of marksheets or logging of flying hours to a great extent by reducing human interface.

The DGCA is already in consultations with organisations like the NIC and the NASSCOM in this regard.