The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is trying to fill 201 vacancies after a safety audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) last month raised concerns of under-staffing. More than half of these vacancies are for personnel who verify the safety of operations and airworthiness of planes. A DGCA official told FE the regulator was planning to hire retired officials under 65 with sufficient experience on short-term contracts until suitable candidates were found. “We are also trying to get some people on deputation from Air India, other airlines and the Airports Authority of India,” the official added.
The 201 recruits will be offered one-year contracts. Out of its sanctioned strength of 574, DGCA currently employs only 307. Nearly 60 of them are consultants while 50 are on deputation from airlines. With the aviation ministry investigating nearly 25 DGCA officials for alleged breach of rules, even the existing staff strength may go down.
The ICAO audit in December had pointed to staff shortage and lack of technical training at DGCA, repeating concerns it had raised in a similar audit six years ago. In the 2006 ICAO audit, India fared poorly on accident investigation standards, alongside Andorra, Cameroon and Belize. India also lagged in terms of legislation, organisation and airworthiness.
Global airlines assess the safety of flying to a particular country on the basis of ICAO’s country-wise audits.
In 2010, India narrowly escaped a safety standards downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Authority, by promising a stronger regulator. A downgrade would have pushed India below the levels of sub-Saharan African countries. Even then, DGCA failed to raise its staff strength, leading to the current panic. It is expected that the proposed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will remove hurdles to quick hiring.
“When the DGCA is converted into an independent CAA, there will be more powers in terms of hiring and compensation,” said a senior DGCA official. “If the CAA is fast-tracked, recruitment will become easier.”
The DGCA will offer Rs 25,000-30,000 per month for the 201 recruits. The vacancies are at DGCA headquarters and the regional offices of Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kanpur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Bangalore, Bhopal, Cochin, Patna, Patiala and Bhubhaneswar.