Say a prayer next time you take a flight, and hope the aircraft is fit to fly and the pilot is not drunk. This is because the country’s aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation which is responsible for keeping the skies safe, is severely understaffed, underpaid and overworked.
DGCA is facing attrition in key departments like airworthiness, which certifies aircraft for fitness; air safety which probes accidents and frames safety rules; and operations, which deals with pilot licensing.
While the numbers of airlines and fliers have grown rapidly in the past five years, DGCA’s staff strength has come down to around 260 against the 500 required. Its offices in Guwahati, Kanpur and Patiala closed down as there was no one to man them. And in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, it’s a struggle every day.
DGCA’s technical staff are in high demand at domestic and international airlines one of the reasons why several have quit. Sources said about 40 senior officers have left in the past one year.
DGCA chief Kanu Gohain admitted the staff crunch and said steps were being taken to overcome it.