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3 aircraft fleet to be mandatory for commercial air charter operators

Air charter firms, NSOPs and others concerned have been asked to submit their comments on the proposed changes in the rules by November 12.

PTI|
Updated: Oct 14, 2014, 06.31 PM IST
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Air charter firms, NSOPs and others concerned have been asked to submit their comments on the proposed changes in the rules by November 12.
Air charter firms, NSOPs and others concerned have been asked to submit their comments on the proposed changes in the rules by November 12.
NEW DELHI: Aviation regulator DGCA is proposing to bar air charter operators from commercial flying if they do not have a three-aircraft fleet within a year of operations, provoking consternation among business jet firms.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has come up with a proposed rule which would permit a non-scheduled operator (NSOP) to launch operations with one plane or a helicopter, but raise its fleet size to at least three within a year of securing the air operator's permit.

The existing NSOPs, which do not have three planes, would be given one year to either have a three-aircraft fleet or convert themselves to private category in which case, they would not be able to carry out commercial or chartered flights, official sources said. The aircraft could either be purchased or leased.

Within this one year period, an NSOP would be allowed to operate non-scheduled air services with less than three planes or choppers, subject to meeting all airworthiness and operational requirements, the sources said.

Air charter firms, NSOPs and others concerned have been asked to submit their comments on the proposed changes in the rules by November 12.

Asked to comment on the matter, Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) officials said lot of deliberations would be required as it could create some problems for small operators.

They said the BAOA would submit a detailed response to the DGCA in the next few weeks after holding widespread consultations with its members and others concerned.

The proposal to revise the existing rules came after the DGCA set up a committee to examine the regulatory requirements of NSOPs which recommended that operators having less than three planes should not be permitted commercial operations.

The review of the rules was carried out after US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) carried out safety audits and downgraded India's aviation safety mechanism from the top category to Category-II, they said.

Sources among the business jet operators said such a rule could adversely affect air operations particularly in remote areas, where the government proposes to increase connectivity.

Besides, acquisition of an aircraft normally takes long time and may not be possibly completed in a 12-month period, they said.

The sources, however, said such a move would lead to consolidation in the business aviation industry which was also necessary.

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