The Centre has approved 75 new posts in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Recruits for these will carry out safety inspections of aircraft and private charter companies.
The move is aimed at staving off the threat of a downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). In audits conducted in September and December 2013, FAA had raised concern on the lack of full-time flight operation inspectors (FOIs) in the DGCA. FAA is scheduled to bring out a report in this regard soon.
All the new posts, chief, deputy and senior FOIs, will be created in the DGCA's Flight Standards Directorate.
The new posts were based on International Civil Aviation Organisation standards for aircraft and helicopter operations, an official spokesperson said. To attract talent, salaries to the new recruits would be at market-determined rates. A DGCA spokesperson said the recruitment was likely to start next month and the recruits trained by March-end.
In case of a downgrade by FAA, Indian airlines will not be able to increase the number of flights to the US and additional checks will be imposed on existing Air India and Jet Airways flights. Indian airlines will also be barred from code-sharing with American airlines.
So far, DGCA did not have regular FOIs. Pilots and commanders from scheduled airlines carried out these functions and were paid by the airline concerned, not DGCA. This raised chances of conflicts of interest, FAA had said.
DGCA has already appointed 18 chief FOIs on a contract basis.
A ministry official said financial concerns would be taken care of once the Civil Aviation Authority was formed to replace the DGCA. In July 2013, the Centre had given an in-principal approval to a civil aviation ministry proposal to set up the Civil Aviation Authority, an autonomous body. A Bill in this regard was scheduled to be tabled in the monsoon session, but was delayed.
Besides the shortage of technical staff, FAA has also raised concern on training of employees for various aircraft. "Our employees are trained on all types of aircraft operated by our scheduled commercial airlines, but non-scheduled operators (NSOPs) have various kinds of aircraft, which our employees aren't trained in," said a DGCA official. To address this, the DGCA has put in place a regulation making it mandatory for NSOPs to train two FOIs at DGCA, every time they introduce a new type of aircraft.