The government is considering giving more powers to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and setting up an independent safety board to separate the role of the aviation regulator and investigator.
The move comes after the Mangalore air crash on May 22, that killed 158 persons, renewed focus on aviation safety.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told reporters on Thursday that the government was considering establishing an independent safety board on the lines of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to separate the role of regulator and investigator.
After addressing the first meeting of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council, set up within a week of the Mangalore crash, he said, “The government will definitely consider granting full autonomy to the DGCA and empower it to independently carry out its work as a regulator of Indian aviation.”
If needed, the government would bring in a “suitable legislation” to turn the DGCA into a fully autonomous body with overriding authority on all aviation regulatory matters.
The NTSB investigates all major accidents in the US. It also assists other nations in probing such accidents. It sent a team of investigators to India after the Mangalore crash.
Thursday’s meeting was held after DGCA directives asking pilots to refrain from forced soft landings or leaving the cockpit inadequately manned when an aircraft is airborne.
The DGCA will carry out a drive to inspect systems and facilities at 11 airports described as “critical”, Patel said, adding “critical does not mean unsafe. It reflects on the topography of the area where these airports exist.”
Court of inquiry
The government on Thursday set up a court of inquiry into the Mangalore air crash.
The court of inquiry, headed by former Vice-Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Bhushan Nilkanth Gokhale, has to submit its report by August 31.