For better enforcement of air safety standards, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will soon be empowered to penalise airlines and airports for various offences and non-compliance of air regulations.
Present powers of DGCA
Under the present rules, the DGCA is authorised to either suspend the operations of airlines or airports or take away their licence, but has no powers to impose fines or penalties.
Generally DGCA is not able to take any action because it does not want to take extreme steps such as suspending the operations as it also affects customers. Currently, it has to file a case in the court to take any action against the operators even for small violations.
New proposed powers of DGCA
The Civil Aviation Ministry will soon send a proposal to amend the Aircraft Act, 1937, to the Law Ministry, to empower the DGCA to impose fines for violations under the Act.
The violations include operating aircraft without the specified minimum crew, flying without a valid pilot licence or medical fitness, not maintaining records, fraudulent entry in logbooks and not maintaining airports.
Many of the violations can be easily controlled. The DGCA can levy a fine immediately which the operator will have to pay.The DGCA may be empowered to fill vacancies on deputation or promote its employees without getting the consent of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).The Union Civil Aviation Ministry is expected to take up the proposal with the Department of Personnel and Training soon.
The DGCA will be given full financial autonomy, enabling it to spend money without taking the consent of the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Present criticism of DGCA
The DGCA needs a complete overhaul before being converted into an operationally and financially independent civil aviation authority.
The head of the DGCA should not be a political appointee and should be with proven knowledge of aviation and should be given at least a three-year term, instead of appointing an IAS officer for a short tenure of six to 12 months.