With a staff shortage of 200 people, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is hiring people employed by domestic carriers for the purpose of surveillance in its Air Safety Department.
The regulator has already recruited 40 staff from different scheduled airlines to work as air safety inspectors on a deputation basis and is interviewing around 60 more.
“The recruitment process has been completed. They are undergoing training and would be put on job from the second week of April,” said Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson Maushumi Chakravarthy.
The Air Safety Department monitors everything from aircraft maintenance, airline compliance with flight duty timing limitations, medical standards of flying crew, cabin safety etc.
However, while experts are lauding the move, they fear the recruitment on a deputation basis could also possibly risk passenger safety.
“It is a good decision,” said air safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan. “But they have to ensure complete transparency to avoid discrimination.”
For instance, how would a person on the payrolls of an airline possibly press charges against his own employer, Ranganathan asked.
Such a clash of interests has been ruled out, said Chakravarthy.
“DGCA’s chief flight officer will ensure that a person working with Air India, for instance, would not be given the responsibility of conducting safety audits on the same airline.”
The DGCA has been under pressure to fill up vacancies following a warning from the Federal Aviation Administration, the US regulator of air travel.
The US regulator threatened to downgrade India from Category 1 to Category 2 for consistently slipping safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.