Business jet operators protest over publicising of DGCA reports

The Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) has protested to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the ministry of civil aviation over the publicising of reports on inspection of planes operated by general aviation operators.

In a letter to Ashok Lavasa, the ministry's secretary, yesterday, BAOA said: ''...undue and subjective publicity is being given to the inspection reports of DGCA, involving aircraft of non-scheduled operators and private operators... totally uncalled for, especially since these inspections are a matter of routine.''

The association had earlier this week raised the issue in a similar vein.

According to BAOA, the recent downgrade of India by the America's Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) stemmed primarily from a shortage of qualified staff for conducting safety and airworthiness inspections of aircraft, not due to deficiencies on the part of non-scheduled operators.

According to R Bali, secretary of BAOA, reports in the media initiated by DGCA were a clear attempt to detract attention from the essence of this issue and shift blame of the FAA downgrade to the private aircraft operator.

Business Standard quoted an official as saying the aim of the regulator in scaling up safety checks was to ensure compliance. He added, it was important to step up surveillance through random inspections so that operators did not get complacent about safety.

In another letter to the authority, Bali said, "It is not fair to make Indian Non-Scheduled Operator's Permit (NSOPs) operators a scapegoat to showcase DGCA's authority by subjective reporting of the observations during these (recent) inspections," PTI reported.

The letter comes days following the DGCA grounding a business jet of the Ambani Group while it found faults with those owned by several others corporate houses and private charter firms.

The private operators fly 552 aircraft, of which many are being used by political leaders for poll campaign.

According to Bali, the general aviation industry was "suffering due to complete lack of infrastructure, high taxes and specific policy framework." He added that International Civil Aviation Organisation had asked India in 2012 to prepare a roadmap for general aviation till 2036.

According to BAOA president Rohit Kapoor who spoke to PTI, the NSOPs had been cooperating with DGCA which had reviewed their safety management system last year.

Kapoor added, the aviation companies were "aggrieved when, without any prior notice, all foreign flights of Indian NSOPs were banned by DGCA in August last year to suddenly implement a new process of certification.''

PTI quoted DGCA sources as saying in reaction to the development that private charter and business aircraft operators would be called for a meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the issues raised by them.