Cops quiz 34 pilots on DGCA complaint
In an unprecedented move, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has filed a police complaint against 34 pilots of four airlines — Jet, IndiGo, SpiceJet ad GoAir — for "making obscene remarks" against its top officials on social media.
Based on this, some pilots were called to DGCA office on Tuesday morning and the taken to Lodhi Road police station for questioning. The police clarified it has not detained or arrested the pilots so far, but are investigating the DGCA's complaint.
"Our colleagues were called to DGCA Office on Tuesday morning after which they were taken to Lodhi Road Police Station. We are consulting lawyers and plan to go to the police station in a show of solidarity," said a senior pilot.
DGCA chief BS Bhullar said: "DGCA has filed police complaint against 34 pilots for making obscene remarks against our officials on social media. Any action on that is for the police."
IndiGo spokesman Ajay Jasra said: "We are looking into the charges and extending cooperation to DGCA. We will take appropriate action based on findings of our internal inquiry."
A SpiceJet spokesperson said: "No SpiceJet pilot has written any derogatory or obscene message against any DGCA official or made any comments on the draft DGCA CAR. One of our pilots had just forwarded some WhatsApp messages to a few friends and colleagues."
Jet and GoAir comments were yet to respond.
The bad blood between pilots and the senior DGCA official happened when they addressed him wrongly in a mail. Following this, the DGCA had asked Jet Airways to check the mental "alertness" of 10 of its pilots and see if they are fit enough to be allowed to fly.
The 10 pilots had written to the regulator, opposing its proposed move to double the notice period of commanders to a year. But while doing so, they put the wrong designation of the DGCA official to whom the letter was addressed. Instead of saying joint director-general, the letter described him as "joint director, DGCA" which is several notches below his position.
The joint DG wrote back to the pilots, saying: "This shows your absent state of mind and not fit condition for flying as the alertness required to perform cockpit tasks appears to be missing. With absent mind, cockpit checks performed in a casual manner may create hazardous situation leading to compromise with safety of aircraft operations."
Asking the pilots to send their comments again, the top DGCA official asked the head of operations to check the "level of alertness" of these cockpit crew and see if they are fit to fly. Later some pilots sent the official another mail, which started with an "unconditional apology" for getting his designation wrong.
Pilots of Indian carriers are up in arms against a draft civil aviation requirement (CAR) of DGCA that proposes to double notice period of commanders to a year.