In a bid to grant regulatory powers to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Government on Thursday approved a number of proposals to amend the 1934 Aircraft Act.
This would enable DGCA to exercise supervisory control over several matters including communication, air traffic management and operation of foreign registered planes in the Indian skies.
The Union Cabinet decided to finalise the legislation in consultation with the legislative department before being moved in the Parliament, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after the Cabinet meeting.
Through the proposed amendment, the government would acquire powers to exercise supervisory control on the standards of airport, communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) and air traffic management (ATM) facilities.
The Centre would also be able to exercise control on the manufacture, possession, use, operation and sale of civil aircraft through this amendment.
It would also enable licensing of the personnel engaged in air traffic control, enhancing the quantum of penalties for violation of the Aircraft Act and cover the security aspects of aircraft operations.
The decision to amend the age-old law was taken in view of the major developments in the country's aviation sector, the opening up of the sector and the switching of CNS-ATM from ground-based to satellite-based technology. In recent past, a need was felt to lay down proper safeguards to ensure aviation security also.
In accordance with international standards, the proposed amendment would include the word 'incident' along with 'accident', making a clear distinction between them.
'Accident' would be defined in case a person is fatally or seriously injured during a flight or the aircraft sustains substantial damage or structural failure or the plane is missing or completely inaccessible.
'Incident' would be defined as an occurrence of a nature other than an 'accident', which is associated with operation of an aircraft.
To cover the security aspects of aircraft operations, the government needed to exercise supervisory control on technical standards of airports as their ground-based CNS-ATM facilities.
It also required powers to grant licenses to the personnel engaged in ATC in order to maintain desired standards and level of proficiency, in line with those granted to pilots by the DGCA.
Through the proposed amendment, the powers of the DGCA would be enlarged to cover regulation of air transport services, prohibition of flight over specified areas, prohibition of slaughtering and flaying of animals within 10 kms radius of airports, and empower DGCA to provide safety oversight functions.