Full autonomy likely for DGCA, to independently carry out its work as regulator of aviation sector

Keeping aviation safety uppermost in its mind, the Centre is mulling over creation of an independent board on the lines of the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in a bid to separate the roles of aviation regulator and investigator.

With concerns over civil aviation safety coming into sharp focus after the May 22 Air India Express crash at Mangalore, which claimed 158 lives, the Centre has stepped up efforts to revamp safety and probe mechanisms.

After addressing the first meeting of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC) here on Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said the government would consider granting the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation full autonomy and empowering it to independently carry out its work as a regulator of the aviation sector.

The CASAC, set up in the DGCA within a week of the Mangalore crash, will advise the government on further strengthening the safety environment through the synergy of expertise in four crucial fields — flight operations, airworthiness, aerodromes and air navigation services, and aircraft engineering.

The council will also invite experts from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency, Boeing and Airbus.

If needed, “suitable legislation” could also be brought in to convert the DGCA into a fully autonomous body with overriding authority in all regulatory matters, Mr. Patel said. As the need was felt for delinking the roles of regulator and investigator, the government was considering forming a separate body to probe air crashes.

NTSB's role

In the U.S., the NTSB investigates all major accidents, including air crashes, accidents at sea or on highways. It also assists other nations in probing such accidents. The NTSB sent a team to India after the Mangalore crash.