Govt shelves proposal for Civil Aviation Authority
The UPA government had proposed to replace Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) having full functional and financial autonomy to give the regulator more teeth.
“What is the need for CAA? What purpose will be served by just changing the name? I do not see any reason (to replace DGCA),” the Civil Aviation Minister said.
Raju, however, admitted there is “opaqueness” in working of DGCA and promised to usher in transparency in the body in the interest of passenger safety and security. The Minister said an ambitious plan is being worked out to make the DGCA a more “responsive” and “meaningful” body, which had faced a downgrade on safety grounds during the UPA regime.
The DGCA is expected to make completely online 18 major services including granting of licence to pilots, approval of safety procedures and engineering and flight operations this month as part of its e-GCA (e-Governance in Civil Aviation) project. “We need more transparency in DGCA. Things have to be more transparent and the opaqueness has to go away so as to make things more responsible and responsive,” Raju said in an interview.
His comments come at a time when there are increasing threats to aviation security worldwide, particularly after the terror attack on Brussels airport in March. Questions relating to safety of passengers had come into focus following incidents such as a pilot trying to land an aircraft on a road mistaking it for the runway and another pilot allowing a cabin crew to travel in the cockpit.
Against the backdrop of safety lapses in domestic carriers raising concerns about the effectiveness of DGCA, Raju said safety was very important and no government can ignore it. “DGCA was downgraded under the previous government.
It was upgraded under the current government. We want to make it a meaningful regulator,” Raju said. US Federal Aviation Administration had downgraded India’s aviation safety rating in January 2014 and an upgrade was given in April last year. Asserting that improvement of overall aviation safety was a major focus area for the government, Raju said various critical issues are being looked into by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
“Safety angles have to be strengthened and it is a continuous process,” the Minister said. At the same time, he said regulations have to be purposeful and laxity cannot be allowed at any cost. “Certain regulations probably need to be modified and there is lot of work going on,” he added.
Based on certain “security format”, the Minister said, BCAS is in the process of upgrading various security features. “They do audit depending on classification of airports. We would like them to do it without any interference from anyone to keep Indian skies safe.”