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Fake pilots: Panel to probe insiders' role

Last updated on: March 31, 2011 11:17 IST

Fake pilots: Panel to probe insiders' role

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Mihir Mishra in New Delhi

The civil aviation ministry has formed a 12-member committee to ascertain the involvement of insiders in the fake pilot licences scam.

The committee, which will submit its report in six weeks, will also recommend ways to make the examination for accrediting commanders in airlines foolproof.

"The committee will first find out the extent of insiders' role in the whole scam and will then suggest ways to make the examination system foolproof," said a senior ministry official, who did not want to be identified.

The committee comprises members from the civil aviation ministry, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, representatives from the Indian Air Force, Air India and National Informatics Centre, and independent aviation analysts.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Rohit Nandan, joint secretary, civil aviation ministry, is the convenor of the committee, which also has Director General of Civil Aviation E K Bharat Bhusan as its member.

After the scam was unearthed, DGCA has initiated a revamp of the pilot licensing system and is looking at appointing a third party to scrutinise pilot training academies.

Not only pilot training institutes but the conduct of DGCA officials has also come under the scanner since the scam broke out.

The Delhi Police have claimed to have cracked a racket after the arrest of a director-level DGCA officer, a trainer and three pilots.

The official added that DCGA was considering to conduct the Airlines Transport Pilot Licence examination online and the committee would discuss ways to implement that.

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Image: An IndiGo aircraft at an airport parking bay.

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To become a commander, a co-pilot with requisite flying hours additionally needs to appear for a test to get the ATPL.

The requisite flying hours are over 2,000 hours.

DGCA has asked all airlines to monitor the hiring and training of co-pilots in a more effective manner and also file a monthly report to the ministry on the same.

The aviation regulator has also ordered that any addition of expatriate pilots in any of the airline will need clearance from them on a case-to-case basis.

There are over 400 expatriate pilots in the country and the new date for replacing them with Indian pilots is December 31, 2013.

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There have been six arrests, which include three pilots, in the case till now.

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.

But pilots Swaran Singh Talwar of MDLR and Syed Habib Ali and Bhupinder Singh, with fake licences but not working with any airline, are still on the run.

Delhi Police has issued a lookout notice against them.


Image: A cockpit.

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