The rot in the country's civil aviation industry runs deep - a well established fact at present as the Crime Branch of Delhi Police arrested another pilot in the nationwide fake pilots license racket on Tuesday suggests. However, how deep the rot really is, is a question which is unlikely to be answered too soon.
"As per the complaint forwarded to us by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), we were required to look into two issues on a case-by-case basis: forged marksheets and fudged flying hours," said a senior Delhi Police officer investigating the racket in which as many as nine people, including five pilots, have been arrested so far.
On Tuesday, the Crime Branch arrested pilot Hiren Nagar (27) and a tout Eknath Patil (46) from Ahmedabad. The arrests came a day after the arrest of Abhinav Kaushik, another pilot, from Gurgaon.
However, police sources said teams investigating the matter had been asked to stay clear of investigating one of its most elementary facets.
The police said they had reason to believe that many cases, in which sons of wealthy fathers aspiring for the coveted cockpit without even elementary scientific knowledge about flying, had used a flourishing network of middlemen and touts to their advantage.
"The most basic academic requirement to become a pilot is a Class 12 certificate from the science stream. One needs to have studied physics, chemistry and maths as his or her main subjects. It is then that one enrolls at a flying school and procures what is called a Student's Pilot License (SPL). The SPL is issued by a flying school," said the officer.
The more important of the licenses required for flying -the Personal Pilot's License (PPL), the Commercial Pilot's License and the Airlines Transport Pilot License (ATPL) are issued by the DGCA.
"If one has the money, obtaining a SPL isn't difficult at all - as the involvement of D Asatkar, a flying instructor at a Mumbai flying school, in the scam has proved. Once you get the SPL, the network of touts and even DGCA officials complicit in the racket, will ensure you don't look back if you have the money," said the officer.
More than 40 flying schools are understood to be operating in the country. DGCA Chief EK Bharat Bhushan could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Meanwhile, the crime branch is set to make another arrest in the case. "We have identified another pilot as per a complaint received from the DGCA. He will be nabbed soon," said Ashok Chand, DCP (crime).