In what appears to be a move by the aviation regulator to delay action on safety concerns raised by Air India crew members, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) cancelled a meeting on the issue stating that they should first get a letter from the national carrier endorsing their claim of being the official representatives of its crew members' union.
According to crew members, the requirement, set by DGCA joint director AK Sharan, is surprising since the regulator has already acknowledged their 30-odd complaints over the past two years.
"They have also sought explanations from the AI management based on our letters. Therefore, the sudden demand to prove whether we are the office bearers of the union appears strange," said a member of All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), which is one of the two cabin crew unions in the airline. The AICCA has been raising concerns about safety violations being committed by the national carrier, such as disregarding duty shift limitations set by the regulator, operating flights with crew less than the permitted headcount, and defiance of rest-rules for the crew.
"All the violations are related to crew fatigue, which could endanger passenger safety," said another AICCA office bearer.
Crew members feel that the DGCA wants to use differences within the union to ignore safety concerns in the airline; a court case between union members is pending in the Bombay high court. "If the company [AI] acknowledges us as the official representatives of the union, we fail to understand why the DGCA refuses to believe them," added the AICCA member.
DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan said, "Let them show evidence of previous correspondence with the DGCA. We will act accordingly."