Soon, India will have a new Director General of Civil Aviation. Arun Mishra, India’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, is widely believed to be the next DG, succeeding incumbent EK Bharat Bhushan.
Unable to find an experienced hand who would suit the criteria laid down by the UPSC (which means at least 12-year hands on experience as an aviation professional), the government has decided to call back Mishra to head this critical function. Mishra was earlier a joint secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
And Bharat Bhushan will revert to the Ministry of Civil Aviation as Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor looking after the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.
The search for a suitable DG has been on for more than 18 months. But large scale nepotism within the regulator’s office leading to a number of ‘fake’ pilots taking to the skies has severely dented the image of this office. The government could not narrow down on suitable candidates for long, prompting it to once again select a bureaucrat.
But what Bharat Bhushan lacks in experience, he has more than made up with his sincerity in tackling the entire fake pilot scam. Ministry officials had said earlier that a one-time relaxation was granted for Bharat Bhushan to continue in this critical role since he had handled the job quite well. But now, Mishra will take over. The same procedure had been followed for Bharat Bhushan’s predecessor, Nasim Zaidi, and the criteria were actually reversed for him to continue to hold this post. He had 12 years of administrative experience and about 5 years of experienec in aviation.
It is pertinent to note here that since the first ‘fake’ pilot was detected by Bharat Bhushan, he has announced many measures to cleanse DGCA of nepotism – since senior DGCA officials have been accused of colluding with pilot testing process as well as airlines to get their wards employed as pilots without having cleared mandatory pilot training exams.
Last year, the DG asked some of his key officials to desist from dealing in all matters relating to those airlines where their children were employed at any position. He has also fast tracked the process of recruiting 114 professionals for key safety and training posts within DGCA on a short term contract basis.
Besides, Bharat Bhushan was also instrumental in pulling up wayward Kingfisher Airlines when it was cancelling flights on a large scale earlier this year due to severe financial strain. He ensured that a daily safety surveillance was mounted on the airline and that its pilots and other staff were not harassed despite the airline’s precarious financial health.
The DGCA’s office is in-charge of regulatory issues pertaining to aviation safety, efficiency, and continuity of air transport including formulation of air law framework.