India‘s aviation safety oversight ranking jumping to the 55th position from 112th place earlier under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) coordinated validation mission, rollout of eGCA for processes at the regulator, introduction of regulations for transgenders who want to be pilots as well as compulsory breath analyser tests for air traffic controllers are among the key developments during the tenure.
“The country’s aviation safety oversight capability has improved substantially and DGCA in its annual surveillance programme conducts more than 4,000 spot checks/audits/night surveillance,” Kumar told PTI in an interview.
Currently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has around 1,300 employees, including about 700 technical staff.
“The number of technical staff is expected to increase by 400 in the next one to two years… also, the number of offices of the DGCA in different parts of the country will increase to 19 from the current 14 in the near term,” he said.
When asked about his tenure, Kumar, an IAS officer of the 1989 Haryana cadre, said it has been a “roller coaster ride”.
“It was fulfilling as we took various steps to improve aviation safety. eGCA was a game changer and made life easier for all stakeholders,” he asserted. “Among the biggest achievements are India’s position going up in the ICAO safety rankings and the full rollout of the eGCA. With the high ICAO ranking, the world knows that India is a better country when it comes to aviation safety,” Kumar said.
During the pandemic, the DGCA chief said that India did what other countries were doing and flight services were suspended for a considerable time.
“What is significant is that our resumption was glitch free while others (countries) had air crash and accidents. DGCA is an expert agency and we have always taken pride in our professionalism. Aviation safety is a serious business and DGCA inspectors have always risen to the occasion,” Kumar said.
India is the world’s third largest as well as the fastest growing civil aviation market in the world.
“On an average, there are 4.5 lakh domestic air passengers and 1 lakh international air passengers in the country,” Kumar said.
In recent times, the regulator has also taken strict action in relation of unruly passenger behaviour onboard flights.
Last month, in a span of less than a week, the DGCA had penalised Tata Group-owned Air India twice related to incidents of unruly passenger behaviour.
On January 24, the regulator imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the airline for not reporting two incidents of unruly passenger behaviour onboard a Paris-New Delhi flight on December 6, 2022.
On January 20, the watchdog slapped a penalty of Rs 30 lakh on Air India as well as suspended the licence of the pilot-in-command of the New York-Delhi flight in which a person allegedly urinated on a female co-passenger on November 26, 2022. In connection with the incident, a fine of Rs 3 lakh was also imposed on Air India’s Director of in-flight services for failing to discharge her duties.