BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Mumbai: Flying schools across the country are now under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) scanner in connection with the fake pilot licence scam.
After the Rajasthan Police exposed the role of the Rajasthan State Flying School and the Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation in arranging licences for pilots who did not have the requisite number of flying hours, the DGCA called a meeting on Tuesday which was attended by officials of the 40-odd flying schools in the country.
“I called a meeting of all the flying schools in India on Tuesday and told them that the DGCA is going to hold a special audit to find out if there are any irregularities in their functioning. A special team will be constituted to complete the audit in three months and bring the truth out. Those found guilty will be severely punished,” said DGCA chief E K Bharatbhushan.
The Anti-Corruption branch of the Rajasthan Police, which unearthed the scam, concurs with the DGCA’s view that more flying schools could be involved.
“We got a breakthrough from our own flying school and we have reasons to suspect that other such institutions are also part of the nexus. We had written a letter to the CBI and DGCA about this,” said Inspector General Umesh Mishra.
“During our investigation, we found that flying schools converted 50 hours of flying experience into 200 hours to enable candidates to procure commercial pilot licences. We have been told that the DGCA has already started screening such institutions,” he added.
Mohan Ranganathan, a member of the Civil Aviation Ministry’s Safety Advisory Committee, said, “The main culprits are touts and the DGCA officials who are hand-in-glove with them. The culprits need to be brought to book immediately or passenger safety will be adversely affected.”
So far, 13 fake pilots have been arrested and the flying licences of many others have been cancelled by the DGCA including those of Rajasthan State Flying School’s chief flying inspector Mohindar Kumar Chaudhary and Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation’s Mahavir Singh Beniwal.
The latest arrests by the Rajasthan Police were those of pilots Anuj Chaudhary and Amit Mundra, who were produced in court on Monday.
Over 10,000 commercial pilot licences and more than 4,000 Airline Transport Pilot Licences are being probed by the DGCA. There are around 40 flying schools in different states and Maharashtra has the Bombay Flying Club in Mumbai.
Touts charge between Rs. 7 and 13 lakh for a commercial pilot licence with another Rs 2 to Rs 4 lakhs charged for additional clearances.