New Delhi: India will have a more autonomous aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in two years, said Nasim Zaidi, who heads the current regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The aviation sector has seen substantial growth in recent years, leaving DGCA under pressure, particularly in the face of high attrition. Many employees have either retired or joined the better-paying private sector. Limited autonomy has made it tougher for DGCA to replace them quickly.
CAA will be have more autonomy. Faster decision-making will make it better-suited to regulate India’s aviation industry, Zaidi said on the sidelines of an air-traffic control conference on Thursday.
The change will be brought in through an Act of Parliament. “The time frame is 18 months to two years. It will need an Act to be passed,” Zaidi said. “There will be a person (to head CAA) who will combine at least two or three roles—chairman of the board, CEO (chief executive) and director general.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has recommended to India a model on the lines of aviation regulators in the US and the UK.
The move for a new regulator gathered pace after the crash of an Air India plane at the Mangalore airport in May, which killed 158 passengers and crew.
Growth in air passenger traffic requires tougher safety measures and stricter implementation, Zaidi said.
Giving an example, he pointed to a rule introduced two months ago. DGCA has made it mandatory for airlines to close check-in counters at least 40 minutes before departure, failing which a flight would go back into queue, playing havoc with the airline’s schedule. This has been done to improve on-time performance of airlines.
“This (rule) has been very rigorously implemented by air traffic control. So much so that yesterday (Wednesday) I was travelling to Mumbai... I don’t know who the ATCO (air traffic control officer) was yesterday, he was very, very strict and he made us wait for 40 minutes,” Zaidi told the seminar.
“Later, when I spoke with the ATCO, he said ‘Sorry sir, but this is the rule you have made’. This cannot be achieved without the help of the first person at the airport right up to the pilot.”