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Top-level meet to fix aviation glitches

New Delhi, March 25: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will meet chief executive officers of all Indian carriers later this week to thrash out many pressing problems as it prepares to remove the ignominy of a downgrade on safety issues by the US aviation regulator.

According to sources, the DGCA will discuss ways to make the process of granting and renewing licences to pilots easier and more effective. The meeting will be part of the regulator’s efforts to amend or even do away with some rules or practices that impact operations.

The US Federal Aviation Authority had downgraded India’s safety ranking in January. It had put the country in category II from category I.

DGCA officials said the regulator would also meet private non-scheduled operators and business jet operators. Airlines have been complaining of issues such as the frequency of medical and proficiency checks of pilots, saying the cockpit crew has to be taken off duty for a significant period to fulfil these legal requirements, which affect operations.

These periodic checks are mandatory for pilots and the cabin crew to retain their licence. According to sources, the airlines are likely to make a presentation on various operational issues and the difficulties faced by them.

“We will hold discussions and see if some of these rules could be relaxed without affecting aviation safety,” DGCA officials said. They also indicated that global norms would be studied while taking decisions.

The meeting will be held a week after the DGCA conducted surprise checks and grounded a Reliance Industries-owned aircraft for violating safety norms. The regulator has also issued showcause notices to SpiceJet and suspended two of its pilots after the cabin crew performed a dance on board a flight to celebrate Holi.

The DGCA had a month ago grounded a United Airlines Boeing B777 aircraft in Mumbai after engineers found that its right engine cover was badly damaged.

The regulator is working on weeding out all deficiencies and preparing itself for an audit by the US FAA in the next few months to regain its category I status.

In January, India’s civil aviation was downgraded to the same level as that of Bangladesh, Belize, Gambia and Haiti.

The FAA had raised concerns about the lack of full-time flight operations inspectors in the DGCA and deficiency in training provided to its employees.

PLUGGING GAPS

  • DGCA plans to ease licence renewal norms for pilots and cabin crew
  • Medical checks of pilots take up a lot of time
  • Work on weeding out deficiencies underlined by US aviation cop to get back category I status
 
 
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