Saturday, March 29, 2014

FAA effect: Directorate General of Civil Aviation hires ex-Kingfisher pilots as flight operation inspectors

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has hired 3-4 pilots from the grounded Kingfisher airlines as part of its appointment of 29 new Flight Operation Inspectors (FOIs). This is part of the requirement to regain category 1 air safety rating from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which had downgraded India in January this year, citing inadequate oversight mechanism with the DGCA to properly monitor the safety performance of Indian carriers.

The civil aviation ministry hopes to ask the FAA conduct a fresh safety audit of India's aviation watchdog DGCA in June this year as reported by FE in its March 8 edition. “The 29 FOIs will now get the training, for which the tenure will depend on the type of aircraft they are expected to assess. The process should be completed by May-June, after which we would look for a fresh FAA audit,” an official said.

At a meeting on Friday at the DGCA regarding regulations for pilots, which was attended by several airline officials including SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor, it was decided that the pilot license renewal time would be extended from two to five years. Moreover, DGCA officials also agreed that pre-flight breath analyzers for pilots need not be done by a doctor, but could also be done by paramedics.

Further, SpiceJet may also get some relief with the DGCA not expected to take action on the airline for allegedly compromising safety when on March 17 the cabin crew danced during Holi celebrations aboard an aircraft. The DGCA had sent a show-cause notice on the basis of YouTube videos, but the airline has reportedly apologized for the episode.