Fake pilot scam: SpiceJet sacks two, 9 more under close watch

Fake pilot scam: SpiceJet sacks two, 9 more under close watch

Eight pilots of different airlines were under the close watch of Rajasthan's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), a day after it arrested the two SpiceJet pilots--Captain Anuj Kumar and First Officer Amit Mundra-- while one pilot is under the scanner of Delhi Police.

A SpiceJet release said the airline had terminated the services of Kumar and Mundra with immediate effect. They were produced before a Jaipur court which sent them to judicial custody.

Kumar and Mundra have been accused of misrepresenting their flying hours in order to obtain their license from the civil aviation regulator DGCA, the release said. Both the pilots said they have done no wrong and that they passed out from a government-run flying school.

"We have been charged because the flying school did not deposit the money we gave them as fees," Kumar said.

As more and more pilots came under watch since the fake pilots scam was unearthed early this month, investigators stepped up efforts to nab one absconding pilot. Four pilots including Kumar and Mundra of SpiceJet have so far been arrested while a woman pilot has "joined investigations".  Parwinder Kaur Gulati of Indigo and J K Verma of Air India were arrested in New Delhi.

"After arresting two pilots yesterday, we are now focussing on eight more pilots who are suspected to have obtained their Commercial Pilot License(CPL) on the basis of forged flying certificates," Additional Director General of Police (ACB) Ajit Singh, told PTI in Jaipur.

"The number of pilots may also increase depending upon the outcome of the ongoing probe. Three out of the eight pilots, who are under our scanner, are working with Jet airways," he said. In New Delhi, a senior police official said aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has reported one more case to Delhi Police's Crime Branch.

"We have received one more complaint. We are investigating the matter," he said. However, the official did not provide the identity of the pilot saying it would hamper the investigations.

Asked about the absconding pilot, he said they have stepped up efforts to nab Swaran Singh Talwar of MDLR who is on the run. Talwar's anticipatory bail application has been rejected.

Meenakshi Sehgal of Indigo, against whom also there is a complaint, has joined investigations but investigators alleged that she "was not cooperating" with them. Sehgal could not be arrested till March 24 as per a court order.

The Director General of Civil Aviation Bharat Bhushan said he has ordered a special audit to examine the flying schools in the country and plug loopholes.

Bhushan said the decision for a special audit was taken after his meeting with the management of 40 flying institutes in a bid to introduce few safeguards in the wake of the fake pilots scam.

Delhi Police's Crime Branch sleuths are also in touch with their Jaipur counterparts to ascertain whether the accused pilots were in touch with each other. "We believe that there was a channel of people who arranged the fake mark-sheets," a Delhi Police official said.

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