Bar in air gets Bangalore firm plane grounded

Bar in air gets Bangalore firm plane grounded

Bar in air gets Bangalore firm plane grounded

Cracking the whip on Tuesday, the country's aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded two chartered aircraft, including one belonging to a Bangalore-based company, in Delhi for carrying alcohol in the domestic circuit, which is against the law.

The grounded aircraft belong to Bangalore-based Sobha Puravankara Aviation Pvt Ltd and the Bajaj Auto Ltd's Aviation Division.

Sources said the nine-seater Gulfstream G-200 of Sobha Puravankara Aviation Pvt Ltd, flying from Bangalore to Delhi, had a full-fledged bar, while Bombardier Global 5000 (VT-BAJ) of Bajaj flew in to Delhi from Pune with a liquor bottle in it. They also claimed two members of the crew of the Gulfstream aircraft were not properly trained.

“We have not received any letter from the DGCA. We cannot comment," a senior official at Sobha Puravankara told Deccan Herald over phone. Bajaj officials could not be contacted.

Reports said Bajaj Auto has informed the DGCA that a liquor bottle was left over from an August 2013 flight between Dubai and Chennai, which carried a prominent Bollywood personality and 11 others.

Expressing concern over firms not adhering to regulations, the DGCA grounded the aircraft for violating the ban on serving liquor on board domestic flights and Delhi Liquor License Rules. The Aircraft Act, 1934, bans serving liquor on planes operating on the domestic circuit, while the Delhi liquor law allows carriage of “not more than one unsealed liquor bottle of 750 ml”.

The DGCA has also asked the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to investigate how liquor was taken on board a domestic flight, dodging security officials at airports.
The two aircraft were caught following a surprise check at the Delhi airport. DGCA inspectors also found no operation manuals, which are mandatory, or route guide, said sources.

The action came as the DGCA intensified its inspection following downgrading of India by the US' Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year.

Last month, the DGCA had grounded a business jet owned by Reliance Commercial Dealers Ltd, as its safety equipment was beyond expiry date and the commander did not have his flying licence. 

The regulator has taken action in around 30 cases over the past month. In the last fortnight alone, the DGCA also grounded 11 pilots and six crew members of GMR for three months as mandatory checks were skipped, a charge denied by the company.

As the news of the grounding of chartered flights spread, the Business Aircraft Operator's Association said it is “deeply distressed” by the DGCA casting aspersions on non-scheduled operators by “selectively leaking” observations of its routine checks in public forums. The DGCA denied the allegations. 

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