The list of examiner rank pilots approved by the aviation safety regulator includes three pilots who were charged with serious offences, compromising passenger safety, a government-appointed independent air safety panel said on Friday.
The Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), set up after the Air India Express crash at Mangalore in 2010, sought a probe into the matter and an explanation from the civil aviation ministry. According to CASAC’s letter, which has been reviewed by the Hindustan Times, the list of examiners comprises Captain HS Malhotra from Alliance Air, charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a question paper leak scam last April.
It also includes Captain PP Singh, a senior pilot with Jet Airways caught for fudging training records and Captain SB Contractor, also a Jet Airways pilot, who was benched for approving Singh’s false records.
An examiner rank pilot is among the senior-most pilots of an airline, in-charge of maintaining the safety procedures mandating by the aviation regulator.
“We are not aware if the aviation regulator’s eligibility criteria for examiners have been amended to permit mutilation of log books, fudging of proficiency check reports etc. I would appreciate it if a copy of the amended rules is provided to CASAC members,” the letter stated.
Arun Mishra, the chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was not available for a comment but civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said he would look into the matter.
The matter could have serious repercussions in the wake of an alert issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US’s aviation safety regulator, last week. The alert, issued soon after cases of fudging log book entries came to light, warned Indian carriers to review training procedures to avoid a downgrade.
“By allowing such pilots to enjoy the privileges of an examiner, the DGCA is setting a shocking precedence for other pilots charged with the same offences such as Captain RS Dhillon of Air India,” said Captain Mohan Ranganthan, member, CASAC. He added that though DGCA rules have provision for suspension of a pilot’s license, these pilots were rewarded by retention of their examinership.