Draft bill on Aviation Authority to be taken up by Cabinet

"A draft legislation has been prepared. It is currently being vetted by the Law Ministry. After this, it will be taken up by the Union Cabinet for approval before it is placed in Parliament," the sources said here.

The functions and powers of the proposed CAA, which would replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), have been based primarily on the British model. It would have financial and administrative autonomy to take expeditious decisions on matters relating to a range of activities - from regulation of air traffic services and licensing to ensure financial fitness of airlines, they said.

The CAA would come up at a time when the total aircraft fleet in India stands at about 440 and is estimated to cross 1,000 in a few years. In addition, there are over 200 helicopters and private jets.

The passenger handling capacity of Indian airports, which was just 66 million in 2005, has reached 225 million now and is expected to cross 500 million in the next 10 years. In this backdrop, the CAA would take over the responsibilities of the DGCA in areas like air safety, airspace regulation, setting aviation standards, licensing of airlines, pilots, air traffic controllers and consumer protection, the sources said.

The Civil Aviation Ministry is also proposing to provide certain economic regulatory functions to the new authority, including airfares and areas like consumer protection, environmental research and consultancy.

With its proposed autonomy, CAA would be able to recruit professionals directly for a variety of jobs, instead of routing it through the UPSC as it does now, the sources said, adding that about 400 technical positions in DGCA were lying vacant at present.

The CAA would also conduct periodic safety and security audits, including flight inspections of agencies, to ensure that the prescribed local and global standards are being met.

The authority would have powers to take preventive, corrective and punitive action against agencies and staff for violation of rules and regulations and to ensure ethical trade practices, the sources said. Asked about the establishment of an ombudsman to deal with passengers' grievances against airlines or airports, they said it would be in place over the next few months.

"All stakeholders have agreed to setting up an Ombudsman for the sector," they said.

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