DGCA grounds 3 flights for safety-norm violations

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday refused to allow a private chartered flight to take off from Delhi and two others in Mumbai for violating safety norms.

In Delhi, a Hawker 800 XP of SRC Aviation, which was to fly to Colombo, was not allowed to take off for several hours as DGCA officials found several safety violations, like absence of life jackets or minimum equipment list, during a search.

In Mumbai, officials held up two flights—one of L&T and the other of Poonawalla Aviation company—on the same grounds, said sources.

The tough action comes at a time when more and more private choppers and small aircraft are being used by political leaders across the country for poll campaigning. A week ago, the DGCA grounded a Reliance Industries-owned 14-seater Falcon 900EX and suspended its pilot for violating safety norms. While the aircraft was released after the deficiencies were rectified, sources said the Reliance pilot has now been dismissed.

The regulator, which had also issued show-cause notices to SpiceJet on safety violations after its flight crew danced on board a flight to celebrate Holi, has also received a letter from the no-frills carrier saying it would not repeat such activities without the DGCA's permission.

The DGCA has also decided to enhance the period of pilots' licence renewal from two to five years, subject to the airlines and the cockpit crew meeting all requirements. The decision was taken at a meeting between the aviation regulator's top-brass and senior officials from all Indian carriers.

The decision to enhance the period was being taken only under the condition that the onus of carrying out all other checks and tests would lie on the airlines and their pilots. Such a move would also lessen the burden on the DGCA, which is facing a staff crunch, said officials.

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