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New aviation cop after polls

New Delhi, Jan. 19: The civil aviation bill for the conversion of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) into the civil aviation authority (CAA) is likely to be tabled after the Lok Sabha elections.

The bill was supposed to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament but got delayed.

The ministry officials said they were hopeful of the bill getting introduced but there was a greater likelihood of it coming up only after the elections.

“We are trying to expedite the process of bringing in the bill but it might again get delayed as it is unlikely that it would be discussed before the general elections,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

Officials said the formation of the CAA was the only way to stave off any threats of downgrade by agencies such as the US Federal Aviation Administration. “An independent agency such as the CAA would not have financial or manpower issues. It would be able to function on a par with other international agencies so there would be almost no threats of a downgrade,” a senior ministry official said.

According to the bill, the CAA will have full operational and financial autonomy to regulate all issues concerning safety and to protect the interests of consumers in a fast-changing aviation scenario.

The CAA will be empowered to levy fees and charges under the Aircraft Act, 1934, and conduct its own recruitment process. It will have the power to hire and fire its employees and pay according to the current market rates. At present, the Union Public Service Commission (UPCS) carries out the recruitment process for posts in the DGCA.

Last year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had carried out audits of the DGCA and expressed 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 DGCA is working on the observations and suggestions by the FAA during its recent safety audit but needs six more months to fully comply with all the recommendations.

The FAA has raised concerns over 33 issues, which include the filling up of several senior positions such as full-time flight operations inspectors (FOIs), beefing up of safety training programmes and lack of manuals and documentation on certain safety issues.

The FAA is scheduled to submit the final report on its December audit in a couple of weeks, sources said.

On the basis of this report after a two-day compliance audit, the FAA will decide whether to downgrade India’s aviation safety status or maintain it at category-I.

Meanwhile, the DGCA has fast-tracked the recruitment process and hired 20 full-time inspectors. Forty-five more will be recruited over a period of time.

 
 
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