Clip their wings

Recruitment scandals are not uncommon in India, with ineligible candidates finding their way into government service or securing appointment in boards, corporations or other bodies. There have been umpteen charges of irregular appointments by public service commissions, the Railway Recruitment Board, etc and corruption and favouritism have been seen in them. The scandal that has hit the civil aviation sector is the latest and it is serious because of its implications for the safety of air passengers and the aircraft they travel in. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to scrutinise the licences of over 4,000 pilots after reports that some of them who failed to qualify for their commercial licences may have used fake certificates to get their jobs. Two pilots have already been arrested and there are chances of more cases of fraud and irregularities coming out into the open in the coming days.

The scandal came into public view after repeated faulty landings of an aircraft by a woman pilot. It has since been found that fake marks sheets, procured through corrupt means, and other fraudulent documents have been used to secure pilots’ jobs in airlines. Touts and middle men have reportedly been involved in the activities. The DGCA, which is the regulatory authority, has to accept blame because it has failed in its responsibility of vetting the documents. Connivance of DGCA officials in the irregularities cannot be ruled out. There have been reports that the kin of some officials, serving or retired, have benefited. The DGCA has the job of laying down, enforcing and monitoring airworthiness and safety standards and ensuring that the crew are best trained and equipped for their jobs. The scandal shows that it failed in its job at least in some cases.

Air travel has become much more frequent in India than in the past. Private airlines are very active and the sector is growing. But there have been complaints that the supporting infrastructure has not kept pace with the increasing requirements of the sector in terms of safety and security. The existence of pilots not qualified to fly adds a dangerous dimension to the problem. All of them should be weeded out to ensure safe travel and to create confidence in the minds of passengers. Action should also be taken against those who resorted to unfair means to secure jobs and  others who facilitated it.

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