New Delhi: India’s aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has disallowed 10 Jet Airways pilots from flying duties after they wrongly quoted the designation of a senior DGCA official in a communique. 

The airline’s pilot body has termed DGCA’s decision “threatening”, with pilots now seeking intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove the official. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had last month proposed a notice period of one year for pilots and six months for co-pilots before leaving the services of their current company.

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The proposal sought to change the current policy of notice periods under which pilots are required to serve a six-month notice period in order to exit the company. 

However, the idea didn’t go down well with the pilot bodies who saw DGCA proposal as an “unnecessary intervention” between a pilot and the airline he or she is working for. 

What led to the suspension?

While the proposal was still in pipeline, the aviation body and the concerned officers invited comments of the pilots on the draft of the policy. However, when the pilots responded to the concerns arising out of the draft in a letter, they wrongly quoted the designation of the top DGCA official. 

This triggered an aggrieved response from the DGCA official who, while rejecting the response of pilots, also accused them of “absent state of mind” for not spelling out his “designation correctly.” 

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The email from DGCA official to the pilots, shared by a pilot from a different airline with ScoopWhoop News, reads:

“This shows your absent state of mind and not to fit condition for flying as the alertness required to perform cockpit tasks appears to be missing. With absent mind, cockpit checks performed in a casual manner may create hazardous situation leading to compromise with safety of aircraft operations.” 

The official also sought an apology from the pilots.  

The action 

While the pilots did offer an apology to the official in a separate communique, they also explained that regulator should “stay clear” of the issues which come under the function of Human Resource management of the company they work for.  

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The reply to DGCA official from the side of pilots, shared by a pilot from a different airline with ScoopWhoop News, reads:

In the past the regulator has not intervened to protect the interest of employees who have not been paid salaries on time or other increments as per contractual/legal obligations including NOCs. The regulator thus should stay clear of labour associated issues which are purely an HR function.”

But instead of taking the discussion further, the DGCA official ordered “to de-roster more than 10 commanders to allegedly ascertain their mental capabilities.” 

It also ordered the airline to appear before it on Tuesday. 

What do the pilots say? 

After the DGCA decision, the Jet Airways domestic pilots’ association – National Aviator’s Guild (NAG) – released a statement, saying the move was “threatening.” 

“[It] shows how one individual can hold all the airlines to ransom for an error as minuscule as mentioning his designation incorrectly,” the NAG statement said. 

The pilots’ body also said they will approach Prime Minister’s Office to seek action against the DGCA official. 

Feature image source: PTI/File Photo