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Rediff.com  » Business » On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

March 25, 2014 11:39 IST

On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

In a first for the general aviation sector, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday took some tough measures.

It issued stringent safety guidelines and threatened to cancel air operators’ permit of business jets and helicopters that failed to conform with these rules.

The move has come on the heels of India’s safety rating coming under scrutiny and being downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration, besides many others like Singapore.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (which represents all European Union countries) has also raised the red flag on the issue.

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The image is for representational purpose only


Image: Falcon 2000S business jet.
Photographs: Courtesy, Dassault Aviation

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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The development is significant also because it comes amid many politicians hiring smaller aircraft and helicopters for their campaigns in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Regulation for business jets came in the spotlight last year, with the International Civil Aviation Organisation in its audit finding lacunae in DGCA’s oversight in general aviation.

There also were instances where Indian companies flew abroad without conforming with certain operational procedures.

A few Southeast Asian countries even refused to allow Indian charters to land at their airports in view of the ICAO observations.

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Image: Bombardier aircraft.
Photographs: Courtesy, Bombardier

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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Since then, most of the 44 non-scheduled operators flying on international routes have been recertified, though applications for some others are still pending.

In a circular issued on Monday, the regulator said: “An analysis of earlier accidents and incidents associated with small aircraft/helicopter operations from airstrips/temporary helipads and past experience of election flying by the operators has revealed that laid-down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardised.”

On Saturday, DGCA had grounded a business jet owned by Reliance Commercial Dealers Ltd, as its safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher and personal breathing device, were beyond expiry dates and the commander was found without his flying licence (he was suspended).

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Image: Interior of the Bombardier Challenger 604.
Photographs: Courtesy, Bombardier.

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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The plane was allowed to fly on Sunday after the older safety requirements were met.

The authority has now issued detailed guidelines, for violation of which DGCA could caution pilots/operators/accountable persons, suspend pilots’ licences, suspend operations for a specified or entire period, suspend AOP or even cancel AOP of the charter company.

A senior DGCA official said: “Earlier, we did not have any penal provision. So, we had to let them off if they fulfilled the requirements.

"Now, we can take penal action and even cancel their AOPs in cases of gross violation.”

According to business jet operators, earlier, surprise safety inspections were very rare and the regulator did not have the manpower to carry out such inspections.

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Image: According to business jet operators, earlier, surprise safety inspections were very rare.
Photographs: Courtesy, Dassault Aviation
Tags: DGCA , AOP

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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However, the DGCA official added: “We have formed a special cell to increase surveillance and deter operators from violating safety guidelines.

“We are doing random checks from the beginning of February.”

The regulator also said an aircraft registered with Jindal Steel and Power had come under scrutiny on Saturday.

But since it had not made any major violation, it would not be grounded.

In India, the two Ambani brothers, Vijay Mallya, real estate developer K P Singh, the Ruias of the Essar group and Atul Punj are among the corporate leaders who own business jets.

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Image: Gulfstream G550 interior.
Photographs: Courtesy, Gulfstream

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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The guidelines issued on Monday directed the flight crew to check on Google the helipad coordinates, their correctness, suitability and other flying aspects like obstacles (for instance, tall trees and high-tension wires) and landing and take-off directions.

The new guidelines also direct the flight crew to carry local maps during flights, use those for navigation and not rely only on the global positioning system.

Company representatives have additionally been asked to monitor every leg/sortie and take action if an aircraft does not land within 45 minutes of scheduled arrival time.

With business jets being used by politicians for the coming elections, DGCA has added a clause that it will now be the responsibility of the operator to file with the Election Commission the details of each flight, along with the passenger manifest and observations made by the district authorities/the Election Commission (if any).

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Image: The interior of a business jet.
Photographs: Courtesy, Gulfstream

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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The flight duty time limitation of the crew will have to be filed with DGCA’s helicopter division every Monday.

Each operator will also have to nominate a responsible person to manage election flying.

This person will be accountable for ensuring compliance with all instructions issued by DGCA, the Airports Authority of India, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Election Commission.

The operators have been asked to provide the details of the nominated persons to DGCA’s helicopter division before commencement of flying.

The operator and flight crew will also have to ensure that no unauthorised cash, arms and ammunition, narcotics or illegal articles are carried on board the aircraft/helicopter, according to the guidelines issued by the Election Commission.

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Image: The flight duty time limitation of the crew will have to be filed with DGCA's helicopter division every Monday.
Photographs: Courtesy, Dassault Aviation

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On DGCA radar for violations, business jets face tighter scrutiny

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The guidelines -- for operating small aircraft/helicopters used by VIPs and persons in the Special Protection Group -- have been issued at a time when election campaigning is set to get more hectic.

According to DGCA, election flying is a highly demanding exercise in terms of skill levels, professionalism and tact.

Long flying hours, a large number of take-offs and landings, weather changes, lack of proper rest, hurriedly-prepared helipads, frequent changes in itinerary, time management, highly stressed security arrangement, crowd control, congested airspace, commercial interest and language barrier are some of the challenges.

Several political personnel of eminence have been injured fatally or killed in recent times due to malfunctioning of business jets and charters.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others were killed when a Pawan Hans Eurocopter B8 crashed due to bad weather in May 2011.

Earlier, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhara Reddy was killed when a state-government-owned helicopter crashed in a dense forest while flying in Chittoor in September 2009.

The image is used for representational purpose only


Image: The cockpit of a business jet.
Photographs: Courtesy, Dassault Aviation

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