In a move set to give more teeth to aviation regulator DGCA, the government is planning to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934, which will allow the regulator to impose fine up to Rs 1 crore on pilots and airlines for violating aviation safety norms, say officials.
Presently, the DGCA only debars, suspends and sometimes cancels permission to fly for airlines, individual pilots or engineers who err on the wrong side but is not allowed to impose any monetary penalty.
Civil aviation secretary R N Choubey confirmed the government's plans to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934.
"Currently, there is no provision to levy penalties. This should be allowed to happen," Choubey said, adding that the government supported stringent provisions in place for the DGCA to deal with violations at various levels, including those related to airlines, pilots, crew members and other entities.
"Now, if there is any irregularity the licence of the entire airline is suspended for some time. This is an extreme punishment and there is no provision for anything in between," Choubey said.
"We are saying that unless something is very severe, there should be a provision for levying a fine."
According to a TOI report, the Ministry of Civil Aviation plans to introduce the amendments in the winter session of Parliament. In the draft of the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the ministry has proposed other changes as well, such as increasing the quantum of the fine that can be imposed under this law to up to Rs 1crore from the existing amount of Rs 10 lakh.
Among other amendments, a new sub-section is proposed to be included stating that the aviation authority or any other officers specially empowered by the central government shall perform the safety oversight functions regarding matters specified in the Act.
The amendments are going to be in line with the rules followed by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). "FAA enforcement is serious business and involves the potential loss or suspension of your airman's certificate or a civil penalty (a fine)," a DGCA official said.
Citing an example, the officer elaborated, "Say you were unfortunate enough to experience an engine failure in a single-engine aircraft and landed your airplane successfully in an open field, with no damage to the passengers or aircraft. If a probe showed that it was the pilot's fault, then he should be ready to pay for the damages, besides undergoing the required refresher courses."