India’s aviation safety regulator has begun cracking the whip on pilots reporting late on duty even by few minutes citing suspected lapse of pre-flight cockpit checks.
According to the officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), about 60 pilots across domestic airlines were given show cause notices following surprise checks conducted over the past two weeks. While officials refused to divulge airline-wise breakup of the crackdown sources said that two full service domestic carriers accounted for most of the offenders.
“We have increased the number of spot checks to eliminate pilots’ laxity over pre-flight cockpit checks,” said a senior DGCA official requesting anonymity. One such show cause notice that HT accessed was issued on March 13 to an Air India (AI) pilot for turning up late by just a minute. The AI spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls and a query sent via email on the show cause notice.
According to sources in DGCA, the punitive actions on the pilots could be in preparation or the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety audit scheduled later this year. The global policy maker on air safety would be reviewing the country’s air safety administration. This audit will be crucial as India had ended up in a category of 13 countries with the most dismal air safety monitoring records following its previous audit in 2012.
Industry insiders suspect that the DGCA’s curtailed tolerance on safety lapses could have something to do with the United Nations-appointed aviation watchdog’s safety audit later this year.