The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has sought up to six months’ time from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to resolve concerns that the US regulator had raised in its audits conducted in September and December.
The FAA had flagged the lack of full-time flight operations inspectors, inadequate training of DGCA staff.
DGCA risks the prospect of a downgrade, unless it is able to meet the US concerns to its satisfaction. The FAA would give its final report on the December audit to the DGCA in mid-January.
A senior DGCA official said that the agency is hopeful that it will not be downgraded. “There were concerns and we have sought a maximum of six months to resolve all the concerns. We are hopeful that they will give us more time, as we are working with a plan to address all of their concerns,” said a senior DGCA official.
If downgraded, Indian airlines will not be able to increase flights to the US, and additional checks will be imposed on the existing flights of Air India and Jet Airways.
The DGCA has not been able to recruit full-time Flight Operations Inspectors (FOIs) due to its inability to pay them market salaries.
FOIs are former pilots, who are typically paid an annual compensation as high as Rs 1 crore. Government rules do not permit salaries of this magnitude, which is why FOIs are being hired on contract with official sanction.
“We have hired 20 FOIs and the process will continue till we reach complete hiring of 65 FOIs,” said the official.
The issue of pay would be resolved once the Civil Aviation Authority is formed. The proposed authority would have powers of determining salaries.
On the issue of inadequate training, the official said that DGCA personnel are trained to handle aircraft types flown by scheduled commercial airlines. It is operators such as private jets that pose a problem as they have several types of aircraft.
The official added that the DGCA has formulated new rules where the onus of training its personnel for various aircraft types lies with the private jet operators. “The other concern on lack of on-the-job training to our employees have also been addressed, as we have prepared a training schedule and format for our employees and the training has begun,” the official said.
In a related development, DGCA is sending a team of officers to Malaysia next week to inspect and certify cockpit and cabin