New Delhi: Aviation regulator DGCA has cracked down on nearly 140 Jet Airways pilots for continuing to fly without clearing mandatory biannual exams and issued show cause notices to the airline questioning its pilot training programme.
The notices were issued to the pilots, as also Jet’s chief operating officer and training chief, on the basis of an audit of its training programme by a three-member DGCA team.
The DGCA, through the show cause notices, asked these pilots why their licenses should not be suspended as they were flying without clearing their Pilot Proficiency Check (PPC) tests, which have to be carried out every six months.
The audit was ordered after one of the airline’s planes plunged several thousand feet while flying over the Turkish airspace on the Brussels-Mumbai route early last month.
When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said the airline “has not seen the report from the DGCA nor has the airline been advised on when it will be received. We therefore cannot comment on the so called findings in the report or the speculation in the media.”
“However we are confident that our training meets all DGCA and international standards and that we will be able to resolve any discrepancies or address any observations, however minor, once we have the report and can discuss the findings with the DGCA,” the spokesperson said.
Maintaining that safety of passengers and crew “remains our paramount priority”, she said, “We will work closely with the DGCA to swiftly resolve any issues that may be highlighted by the authorities.” Airline officials said they would be seeking a meeting with the DGCA soon.
While Jet was asked to ground three pilots “whose training was found to be deficient”, the DGCA also proposed action against some of the airline’s trainers who “imparted deficient simulator training to pilots”, DGCA officials said.
After the August eight incident involving the Jet flight over Turkey, the regulator conducted the audit from August 20 -22, claiming to have found discrepancies of “serious nature”. Jet employs obout 600 pilots.
As per the findings of the audit report, as many as 131 pilots were found to be flying after expiry of validity of certificates of their proficiency check, a test that is required to be taken every six months. These tests examine the overall knowledge level and proficiency of a pilot, the officials said.
Commenting on the matter, a senior pilot, who refused to be named, said the DGCA has been changing rules in this regard “very often” and it takes time for an airline to meet the detailed guidelines and standards required by the rules.
The DGCA rules allow extension of time for Pilot Proficiency Checks (PPCs) by a month, he said, adding that the PPCs include checks on simulator training, on-flight route checks and completion of various courses including aviation security (AVSEC) and Dangerous Goods Course for pilots.
“If a pilot clears all flying exams but his AVSEC test gets delayed, he is still proficient enought to fly. The AVSEC test is meant for getting our airport security passes and has nothing to do with actual flying,” the pilot argued.
Jet officials also said the airline was setting up its own flight simulators in Bangalore and was awaiting certification by the DGCA. Till then, the airline was sending its pilots for simulator training to Hong Kong, Jakarta, Dubai and even in Gurgaon, they said.
As per the DGCA audit, the private carrier’s training and operations chiefs have been charged with “lack of supervision of flight crew training, no review of deficiencies recorded in training assessment forms and permitting release of flight crew for flying duties without corrective training.”