In spite of the exceptionally high threat to aviation security, a large number of aircraft operating in India are flying without a mandatory security system that allows pilots to watch what is happening outside the cockpit while in flight, official sources said on Sunday.
This is happening even as there are specific rules under the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) framed by aviation regulator DGCA which make it mandatory that all planes, imported after 2008, must have the Cockpit Door Surveillance System (CDSS) installed.
But it has become a practice with many airlines to "apply for exemption on one ground or other and they get the exemption without providing any detailed explanation", the sources, refusing to be named, said.
The officials did not specify which airlines were flouting these norms, nor did they divulge the exact number of such aircraft. But there are a "large number of planes which are flying without CDSS".
This alarming trend is being witnessed even after several recommendations were made by Indian and international aviation security authorities and agencies after the 9/11 terror strikes in the US, where airplanes were used as weapons.
The revelation by the sources come at a time when loopholes in aviation security are being plugged worldwide, with the United States' National Transportation Safety Board even considering making Cockpit Video Recorders mandatory on all US registered aircraft by January 1, 2014, to watch the happenings inside the cockpit at all times in-flight.
The CDSS helps the pilots view happenings outside the cockpit through a special application which connects integrated video computer, video cameras and a system controller.
Post 9/11, aviation regulators worldwide adopted new security measures, including the installation of bullet-proof cockpit doors and CDSS.
Five years ago, the DGCA had come out with CAR which said: "In all aeroplanes which are equipped with a flight crew compartment door, means will be provided for monitoring from either pilot's station the entire door area outside the flight crew compartment to identify persons requesting entry and to detect suspicious behaviour or potential threat.
"All new aircraft to be imported after January 1, 2008 should have CDSS installed at the time of import."
The aviation regulator has also recommended that all Indian aircraft need to be equipped with approved compartment doors designed to resist penetration by small arms fire and grenade shrapnel. The door should be capable of being locked and unlocked from either the pilot or co-pilot's station.
As per the DGCA, "forcible intrusion by unauthorised persons" into the cockpit should be "resisted".
Even last month, the aviation regulator had warned airlines of stringent action after it was found that the flight crew of a scheduled airline had allowed the "entry of unauthorised persons in the cockpit in violation of Aeronautical Information Circular 3 of 1997 issued by DGCA".
However, the sources said there are still a lot more to be expected from the Indian carriers in terms of putting in place stringent security measures.