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Five helicopter operators who were transporting pilgrims to the Kedarnath shrine were each fined 5 lakh by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for anomalies in their flying records, according to officials. According to them, the DGCA also suspended officials from two other operators for three months on account of breaking safety rules.

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Days after a chopper carrying pilgrims to the high-altitude shrine made a rough landing on May 30, the discrepancies and infractions were discovered during an audit that was undertaken in June.

“The director general of DGCA formed a team for spot check of the choppers involved in shuttle operations in Kedarnath," according to a representative of the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA).

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“On June 7 and 8, the team conducted a spot check in which serious violations came to light, prompting it to hold a detailed audit of all operators undertaking the shuttle operations," the official added.

Arun Kumar, director general of the DGCA, reported that during the audit that took place between June 13 and June 16, it was discovered that five operators were not keeping accurate flying records in their technical log books. Two more people were discovered to have broken the joint standard operating procedure's rules. DGCA opted not to release the operators' names.

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The safety and security of the country's civil aviation space is "paramount" and all occurrences, including minor issues, are reported, according to Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Against the backdrop of various incidents involving SpiceJet and other carriers in recent times, the civil aviation minister also said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has set a target of carrying out 3,709 checks this year as part of its annual surveillance plan.

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Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the target was around 2,775 checks.

Responding to a query about safety during a recent interview with PTI, Scindia said the civil aviation sector is the one where the occurrence reporting rate is 100 percent.

(With agency inputs)

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