Private air operators today urged the government to evolve a policy framework for non-scheduled air operations, saying lack of it was impeding the growth of general aviation.

Business Aircraft Operator’s Association (BAOA), an umbrella body of non-scheduled operators (NSOPs), also objected to DGCA’s surprise checks saying its public observations “misrepresent the proven safety consciousness prevailing among NSOPs and private aircraft operators”.

In a letter to the Civil Aviation Ministry, BAOA Secretary Grp Capt R K Bali also pointed out that DGCA’s downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was “due to shortage of qualified staff” to carry out operational and airworthiness inspections of aircraft.

“It is not fair to make Indian NSOP operators a scapegoat to showcase DGCA’s authority by subjective reporting of the observations during these (recent) inspections,” Mr. Bali said.

The letter came days after the DGCA grounded a business jet of the Ambani Group and found faults with those owned by several others corporate houses and private charter firms.

The private operators fly 552 aircraft, many of which are now being used by political leaders for poll campaign.

In another letter to the DGCA, Mr. Bali said, “It is disheartening to find that undue and misplaced publicity is being given to these surprise checks by subjective reporting of these (DGCA) observations.”

Mr. Bali said the general aviation industry was “suffering due to complete lack of infrastructure, high taxes and specific policy framework” and added that International Civil Aviation Organisation had asked India in 2012 to prepare a roadmap for general aviation till 2036.

“It is not understood why no follow-up action has been taken on this even after two years, while general aviation continues to suffer due to complete neglect of its infrastructural requirements,” he said.

BAOA President Rohit Kapoor said that the NSOPs have been cooperating with DGCA which had reviewed their safety management system last year.

But these aviation companies were “aggrieved when, without any prior notice, all foreign flights of Indian NSOPs were banned by DGCA in August last year to suddenly implement a new process of certification,” Mr. Kapoor said.

Reacting to the development, DGCA sources said the private charter and business aircraft operators would be called for a meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the issues raised by them.

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