Regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday asked airline bosses to make in-flight announcement in regional languages. Airline executives, however, said it was virtually impossible to execute this citing the diverse language spoken across the country.
In an instruction to the head of operations of all airlines, the regulator’s flight safety department said that the local language should be used for in-flight announcement wherever possible. The regulator also asked pilots to make an announcement about important national monuments while flying over them.
“All airlines may consider to use local language, to extent feasible while making in-flight announcement other than English & Hindi. Additionally to enhance awareness about cultural heritage of India, pilot can make in-flight announcement about the important monument or site (such as Taj Mahal, Konark Temple, Ajanta Ellora, Statue of Unity) which are en route the flight,” a DGCA advisory issued on 27 December said.
Airline bosses speaking anonymously said that implementing announcement in local language will lead to issues of rostering for crews. “A single aircraft sometimes fly through half a dozen language zones in a single day- it may start from Delhi, fly to Mumbai, then to Kochi, then onwards to Chennai, then to Vizag, then to Kolkata and to Guwahati. So which language cabin crew to assign to this aircraft? Obviously it is not possible to have 7+ crew with at least one knowing Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Assamese. This adds a new level of complexity to cabin crew hiring, training and deployment process, which means more money,” said an executive of a private airline.
“Even pre recorded announcements not possible for so many languages in India,” said a second airline executive.
In fact, the circular is in violation of the DGCA’s own regulations. According to Civil Aviation Regulation 21, Part 175, announcements related to, in-flight manuals, air worthiness regulations can be presented in English. Placards related to public information are to be presented in English and Hindi. Officials said that the Airports Authority of India has issued a notice to all aerodromes under its control to start making public announcements in the local language in addition to Hindi and English.
The push for regional language by the civil aviation ministry has started after Goa’s Town and Planning minister Vijay Sardesai asked his party workers not to operate at Dabolim airport if announcements are not made in local Konkani language.