India’s aviation safety regulator might have to eat its own words, just weeks after it warned pilots that they would be punished for feigning illness. Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told HT that the ‘draconian’ draft might be put on the back-burner.
“It was meant to be a stern warning, but I think it wasn’t conveyed properly,” said a senior DGCA official. He added that the proposed draft is unlikely to become a rule.
The proposal, which appeared on the DGCA website on November 7, threatened to send doctors to the homes of pilots calling in sick and ground them for life if they were found to be lying. It cited the widespread disruption of Jet Airways flights — in which more than a 100 flights were delayed or cancelled owing to pilots calling in sick — during the Diwali weekend as a case in point.
Pilots reacted to the move with concern and anger. Last week, at least three pilots’ unions comprising more than 3,000 pilots from Air India and Jet Airways sent angry feedback, calling the move a ploy to hide India’s chronic shortage of pilots. It also stated that 98% Jet pilots were on duty during Diwali. On November 24, the group also sent a legal notice asking the regulator to drop the draft.
DGCA chief BS Bhullar did not respond to HT’s calls.