Lok Sabha passes India's new Aircraft Act

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend India's Aircraft Act of 1934, on 10 September. One of the new features in the Act is a measure to exercise regulatory control on foreign aircraft registered in India, for which original Act did not have any explicit provision.

The amendments will also help the government increase safety and security control on the standards of airports and air traffic management. Introduced by civil aviation minister Praful Patel, the Bill was passed without discussion as the BJP-led opposition was staging a noisy demonstration demanding constitution of a JPC to go into the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The new Act envisages:

  • Licensing of personnel engaged in air traffic control
  • Certification, inspection and regulation of communication, navigation and surveillance, as well as air traffic management (CNS / ATM) facilities
  • Safeguarding civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference and ensuring civil aviation security
  • Regulate air transport services (aircraft operations, air traffic control, as well as maintenance and operation of any aerodrome)
  • Prohibition of slaughtering and flaying of animals, etc, within a 10km radius of any airport

It proposes that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) perform safety oversight functions, or any other office empowered by the central government. Although safety oversight functions are presently performed by DGCA, the Aircraft Act did not specifically provide for it.

Though the Aircraft Act, 1934, empowered the central government to frame rules for implementation of the Chicago Convention, violation of the rules was not punishable. The amendment proposes to enhance penalties - the maximum limit of imprisonment is now 3 years, and the maximum fine is Rs10 lakh ($24,700).

It also includes the term 'incident' in Section 7, along with the term 'accident', so that both concepts are covered by the Act in accordance with international practice. The Bill will now be moved in Rajya Sabha for consideration and passing.