A senior Air India pilot was caught operating flights between Mumbai and Jeddah allegedly without a valid licence on August 31.
On Tuesday, officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) interrogated the pilot at the Delhi headquarters but no action has been taken yet. According to sources the pilot operated a return flight from Mumbai to Jeddah via Calicut carrying more than 400 passengers one-way.
“It is a serious offence. If the flights had a mishap, the passengers or their relatives would not be eligible for insurance,” said a senior AI official requesting anonymity. The official said that even the national carrier would not be able to claim insurance in such a situation.
Source said the pilot told DGCA that it was a minor “procedural lapse” where he forgot to get his Air Line Pilot Licence (the licence to operate a commercial flight as a commander in India) stamped. However, HT learned that he had not applied for renewal.
“A pilot is supposed to apply for renewal at least 15 days before the date of expiry wherein the copy of the licence has to be submitted to the regulator,” said another source in the civil aviation ministry.
Officials pointed out another lapse in the case. According to sources, the airline’s crew scheduling department, which is responsible for assigning flying duties to pilots and cabin crew, maintains a record of licences. “The rostering department should be questioned on how they assigned him flight duty. Pilots could be arrested for such an offence in the US,” said an air safety expert.