In its ongoing drive to cleanse the system of unqualified pilots, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked all airlines to monitor the hiring and training of co-pilots in a more effective manner and to file a monthly report on this.
Any pilot with a commercial pilot licence (CPL) can fly with an airline as a co-pilot but needs at least 2,000 hours of flying experience to become a commander. The regulator has also called a meeting of aviation training academies tomorrow.
To become a commander, a co-pilot with the requisite flying hours additionally needs to appear for a test to get the Airlines Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).
The test in India is conducted by the DGCA. If a CPL licence holder does not fly for two years, the licence stands cancelled automatically.
Industry sources feel DGCA should also look at increasing the number of people required for implementing the rules.
"DGCA needs a lot of new people to do this. They have not been able to monitor the functioning of pilot training schools and it remains to be seen how effectively they are able to implement this," said Jitendra Bhargava, former executive director of Air India.
In the same letter of instruction, DGCA has said any addition of expatriate pilots in any airline will need its clearance.
There are about 400 expat pilots in the country and the latest date for replacing them with Indian ones is December 31, 2013.
The DGCA has initiated a revamp of the system and is going to appoint a third party to scrutinise pilot training academies.
After the drive to check pilots' qualifications began last month, of the 4,500 ATPLs issued by the DGCA, the aviation regulator has verified 1,700.
Of these, seven turned out to be fake. There have been six arrests, including three pilots. A Director-level official of the DGCA was arrested on Saturday.
The first to be apprehended was suspended IndiGo pilot Parminder Kaur Gulati on March 8 and J K Verma of Air India on March 12.
Meenakshi Sehgal of IndiGo, another suspect, has obtained a court order preventing her arrest, though she has been asked to join investigations.