Operations safe, asserts Air India; another pilot grounded

March 16th, 2011 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 16 (IANS) National carrier Air India Wednesday said its operations are safe and the issue of “fake pilots” was being dealt with. The assurance came after the airline removed another pilot from duty for allegedly faking of eligibility papers.

“It’s absolutely safe to fly with us, and even as we speak an equiry has been set up to investigate the matter, while the pilot has been taken off duty,” a senior Air India official told IANS.

The second Air India pilot in question, Arjun Giare, is alleged to have submitted a forged certificate to clear the regulatory requirement for obtaining the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

This is the fifth incident of a pilot obtaining an ATPL and operating flights for Indian carriers on the basis of fake documents.

Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Tuesday told the Rajya Sabha that an experts committee will be formed to look into the current system of examination and procedures for obtaining a pilot licence.

Ravi said the committee will also look into areas such as the introduction of e-technology and an effective system of cross-verification of documents submitted by candidates.

He said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been directed to examine all the pilots licences issued in the past. The DGCA on its part said that it was conducting a thorough check of around 4,000 commercial pilot licences.

The scandal came to light when IndiGo pilot Parminder Kaur Gulati (38) was arrested March 8 for allegedly obtaining the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) using forged documents.

Delhi Police arrested the first Air India pilot, J.K. Verma, Saturday on charges of using a forged marks sheet to acquire a pilot licence.

Verma had been a co-pilot with Air India since 1989.

According to Delhi police, two pilots - Meenakshi Sehgal of IndiGo and Swaran Singh Talwar of MDLR - are on the run.

“They are believed to have paid Rs.10-12 lakh each to touts (to get pilot licence),” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Chand said Monday.

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