Tough to prove actual flying hours

New Delhi: Despite a host of counter- measures taken by regulatory body DGCA after a dozen arrests including pilots for faking documents, aviation experts feel that it is difficult to prove logging of actual flying hours.

Even though steps like online examinations for pilot licenses and stringent measures to audit flying schools are on the anvil, aviation experts say most of these schools function in remote areas which are not covered by the air traffic control (ATC) network.

"Generally, the flying clubs are located in areas where there is no ATC network. This is not only true for India but in foreign countries too. This is because flying practices are carried out in an airspace where there is no commercial flying activity," they said.

"Therefore, you do not have any counter-proof to make out whether a trainee has flown 10 or 20 hours or how many rounds has a trainer aircraft flown on a daily or weekly basis, barring what is written in the log-book," the experts, who requested anonymity, said.

It is possible to maintain all flying records on an airspace where ATC coverage exists.

In a bid to revamp the functioning of flying schools, the DGCA has called a meeting of all such institutes on Tuesday.

As almost all types of aircraft used to impart flight training are small ones, the experts also said that these planes are not fitted with Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) or the `black box` that can record all relevant data on specific aircraft performance parameters.

The FDRs are costlier than the price of these small airplanes, generally two-seaters like different types of Cessna, Piper or Beechcraft which are used to impart flying training, they said.

The FDRs or the Cockpit Voice Recorders are installed in the large planes like the Boeing or Airbus variants.

To questions on the investigations and arrests of pilots and others in forgery cases, they said police was going by evidences of bribery or if someone is living beyond his means which would stand in the court of law. They, however, expressed doubts about the technical aspects of the case.

However, the experts said detailed Civil Aviation Requirements or aviation regulations have been laid down by the DGCA to ensure that all flying schools follow them and they are audited from all angles by the aviation regulatory authority in a stringent manner.

They said that air travel boomed in India in the last decade, leading to the rise of several private airlines and heightened demand for pilots.

This, they said, has resulted in a shortage of experienced pilots and airlines have been struggling to hire them to meet the demand.