India’s airline regulator has found 320 pilots belonging to Air India (AI), SpiceJet, IndiGo and Jet Airways flew with expired licences, suspending eight and issuing warning letters to 57 others.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the erring pilots operated with expired pilot proficiency check (PPC) – a mandatory biannual test for pilots to keep their licenses valid.
Out of the 320 pilots, 255 were flying on an expired license for less than a month, 57 for 30-60 days, six for 60-90 days and two for more than ninety days. Jet topped the list with 130 pilots, followed by AI (101), Air India Charters Limited (70), SpiceJet (10) and IndiGo (9).
“Those who have been suspended had been flying with expired PPC for over 60 days while those who have been issued warnings had been flying with expired PPC for over a month,” said an official.
Letters have also been sent to all Indian airline chiefs by DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar, saying such glaring lapses should not occur again.
HT had reported on September 6 that an audit of Jet Airways’ training facilities had led the DGCA to discover that 130 pilots were functioning on expired licences. The regulator had ordered the removal of the airline’s chief of training for the serious lapse.
The airlines, however, denied any wrongdoing. “The pilots are not suspended. Since their licenses weren’t renewed, they are not being utilised for flying duties. No pilot has flown with an expired license,” said an AI spokesperson.
A spokesperson from SpiceJet denied receiving any notice from the DGCA.”The issue is a technical one related to a change in regulations,” the spokesperson said. None of the other airlines responded to mails and messages from HT.