Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Aviation regulator on the way

New Delhi, Aug. 20: A bill to replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation with the Civil Aviation Authority was introduced in the Lok Sabha today. 

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of India Bill 2013, tabled by minister of state for civil aviation K.C. Venugopal, the new regulator will have full operational and financial autonomy to govern all issues concerning safety and the protection of consumer interest.

The CAA will be empowered to levy fees and charges under Aircraft Act, 1934, and conduct its own recruitment. It will have the power to hire and fire its employees and make payments according to the current market rates.

At present, the recruitment process for DGCA posts is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Last year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US had carried out audits of the DGCA and pointed out their dissatisfaction.

The ICAO and FAA had underlined the severe deficiencies in the DGCA set-up, including 40 per cent vacant posts, problems in job creation and hiring of personnel, the statement of objects and reasons of the bill said.

In view of the situation, it was decided to establish a fully autonomous CAA in line with the aviation regulators in other countries. The CAA will administer and regulate safety issues besides supervising air transport operators, air service navigation operators and operators of other civil aviation facilities.

Issues related to consumer protection and environment regulations will also be addressed by the CAA, which will have a chairperson, a director-general and 7-9 members, including five whole-time members.

All members will be appointed by the government on the recommendation of a selection committee headed by the cabinet secretary. The CAA will set up a separate fund, called the Civil Aviation Authority of India Fund, which will bear its expenses. The fund will get budgetary support.

Earlier, official sources had said the DGCA had limited delegation of financial powers and was therefore incapable of making adequate structural changes to meet the demands of a dynamic civil aviation sector.