Pradeep Kumar, Assistant Director, Licensing, at the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation, who was arrested by the Delhi police in the early hours of Saturday in connection with the fake pilots licences scam, had been under watch for some months now.

“We did not have concrete proof but had shifted him out of the Licensing department last month,” said Director-General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan.

Third party audit

Asked whether the DGCA would initiate a departmental probe, he said that right now it was fully cooperating with the Crime Branch, which is looking into the matter. A preliminary report would be received on Monday.

The DGCA was initiating a third-party audit of flying schools, said Mr. Bhushan.

No need for panic

There was no need to press the panic button as only seven cases of irregularities had been found among the 1,700 licences verified out of a total of 4,500 commercial pilot licences.

All the seven were referred to the police, he said.

He did not elaborate which agency would take up the audit, which would go over with a fine-tooth comb the training methodology and issue of certificates. The focus of the exercise would be on passenger security.

‘Verification needed'

As for international flying schools, Mr. Bhushan said: “We cannot take their certificates at face value any more and need to go through a foolproof verification process.”

He admitted that manpower constraints at the DGCA office were a huge challenge.

“We have only 120-130 people working throughout the country. My predecessor managed to secure the Centre's approval for recruiting 500 more personnel, but the process of hiring, training and induction will take time.”

Mr. Bhushan was talking to the media on the sidelines of the two-day Aviation Security Summit 2011 hosted by the GMR Hyderabad International Airport.

Meeting today

He said a meeting of all flying schools was called for Tuesday in New Delhi to set the tone for an audit, while listening to what their managements had to say in the matter.

A new pilot licensing policy was expected to be unveiled very soon.

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