Economic Times_Private Jet operators seek meeting with DGCA to discuss severe steps

ET Bureau Apr 17, 2014, 03.26AM IST
NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: Business aircraft operating units of firms such as GMR Infrastructure, Tata Sons and Reliance Industries are seeking a meeting with India's aviation regulator after it took severe steps on regulatory lapses by their crew.

"We had written to the regulator a letter on April 4 highlighting our concerns, but he hasn't responded. We are seeking a meeting now," said a member of the Business Aircraft Operators Association, a lobbying body. Still the executive didn't deny that every time a private aircraft operator has been pulled up, it has been at fault.

"We welcome such checks, but in some cases there have been very minor observations," he added. Director General of Civil Aviation has in the last couple of months grounded planes or temporarily stalled operations of about 7-8 business aircraft operators.

The most recent incident happened on Monday when the DGCA sent a show-cause notice to 11 pilots of GMR Aviation because they didn't go for their medical tests, including breathalyser tests.

In this case, GMR Aviation was flying Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Bhubaneswar from Delhi in aFalcon 2000-Lx.

When contacted, GMR said that the reports couldn't be provided due to a technical snag with the printer. It added that "the doctor in charge has certified flight/cabin crew for all flights during the reference period on the basis of digital readings exhibited by the machine".

A senior DGCA official said that the regulator has received GMR's response and is assessing its claims.

"If they can provide the reports or the machine readings no further action will be taken and the pilots will be able to fly immediately," said the official.

The recent intensity in checks happened after the US Federal Aviation Administration in January downgraded India's safety rating and put it on par with Swaziland and Uruguay.

The regulator downgraded India to category-II status after it found that the regulator did not have enough flight operations inspectors to check Boeing 787 planes and other larger aircrafts.

The downgrade, India's first, bars the country's carriers from increasing the number of flights to the US. Immediately after the decision, two American carriers severed codeshare ties with Jet Airways. The downgrade has spurred the DGCA into being stricter.