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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will hire 65 flight operation inspectors, with 20 being hired in the coming months and the rest gradually over 2014-15, a senior official of the civil aviation regulatory body told FE . DGCA has hired 100 airworthiness officers, of which 30 have joined the Mumbai and New Delhi offices of the regulatory body, the official added. The officers are being trained since Monday.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India’s aviation safety rating for the first time to Category 2 due to the inability of the DGCA to meet the minimum mandated safety requirements within the stipulated time-frame. ‘‘One of the main reasons for the downgrade was that FAA thought that DGCA didn't have enough trained manpower to regulate the Indian civil aviation sector,’’ the official said.
“The decision was unexpected as the last meeting we had with them (FAA), we thought they were happy with our staff strength as we were able to show them that concrete efforts were being made from our side to fill vacancies,” he said.
“They haven't asked us to fill a certain number of vacancies but instead told us to ensure that we have enough officers to oversee the activity in the aviation sector and do regulatory orders in better way.”
FE had previously reported that an FAA safety audit team on a visit in September had raised 31 issues with the DGCA's oversight mechanism. Of these, 24 issues had been reportedly addressed and seven were unresolved by the time a second FAA delegation paid a visit in December. As of January, two of the 31 issues highlighted by FAA were were yet to be addressed. The first pertained to the appointment of new flight operations inspectors, for which the Cabinet approved the creation of 75 posts on January 29 with pay equal to industry standards. The second issue pertains to training of an adequate number of airworthiness officers for new aircraft.
“We were surprised because all except two of the remaining seven issues have been resolved. They should have given their judgment only after taking into account our recent moves. According to them, we have completed 75% of the requirement. In my view, we are at 95% today,” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said at a press conference after the downgrade.
The DGCA official added that in the case of the hiring of senior flight operations