DGCA plans separate unit for chartered flights to tackle safety and other issues

Concerned over lack of safety facilities in air charter companies and for planes owned by corporates and individuals, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is planning to set up a separate unit to deal with the emerging scenario, change the rules and recruit skilled manpower to address the problem.

Officials in the DGCA said the move is the brainchild of DGCA, Arun Mishra who is concerned over the safety aspect of chartered planes. The DGCA is faced with a very difficult task as the number of operators stood at 144. Many of them have one or two aircraft and they don't have a proper safety department. The aviation regulator is planning to set up a separate General Aviation wing to regulate the sector. “We are in the process of distinguishing scheduled and non-scheduled operators,” an official in the Civil Aviation Ministry said. Scheduled operators are airlines which operate as per pre-determined flight schedules while non-scheduled ones are basically private charters.

The government has already indicated that a series of measures were on the anvil to promote non-scheduled air operations and safety. However, the major problem faced by general aviation or business aviation sector now was regarding the notice-period for overflying and landing of an aircraft. Currently, if a non-scheduled flight has to overfly the Indian airspace or land somewhere in the country, seven or three-day notice has to be given before the flight is undertaken.

Such problems needed to be tackled urgently to provide much shorter notice periods. “If a foreign pilot is operating a flight for a scheduled operator, he or she does not need clearances because they can fly only after it has been granted. But a foreign pilot operating a non-scheduled flight would have to get such clearances every time he or she has to fly,” the official added.

Noting that non-scheduled flights to defence-controlled airports also faced several problems including clearances to land, officials said discussions were also on with the Defence Ministry to sort them out.

Acute shortage of manpower in DGCA has further created hindrances in improving the system as a whole. The process of setting up of Civil Aviation Authority is also underway. It would pave way for recruiting people from the market with better pay.

The DGCA and Civil Aviation Ministry have also held discussions with the Home Ministry on security aspects of general aviation and to follow best international practices.

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