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DGCA likely to license all ATC officers before ’20 ICAO audit

ICAO had recently asked India to make DGCA licensing authority for ATC officers. Earlier, Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is also ATC service provider, had been licensing ATCOs. DGCA will license all 2500 current ATCOs by December, accord...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 07, 2019, 07.23 AM IST
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ICAO now wants to schedule an audit to check the new system for licensing of ATC officers.
NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) plans to complete licensing of all air traffic control officers (ATCOs) and begin the process for licensing of new recruits ahead of an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), expected early next year.

“We will license all 2,500 current ATCOs by December,” said a senior DGCA official, who requested not to be named. “We also plan to begin the process of giving licence to trainees.”

ICAO had recently asked India to make DGCA licensing authority for ATC officers. Earlier, Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is also ATC service provider, had been licensing ATCOs. ICAO considered it a conflict of interest for the service provider to be its regulator as well. In fact, India was the only big aviation market where the safety regulator did not have authority to license ATC officers, sources said.

India continued with this arrangement for a long time and gave in only after ICAO raised it as a safety concern. This led to India’s air safety oversight score falling below those of its smaller neighbours Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and even North Korea.

ICAO now wants to schedule an audit to check the new system for licensing of ATC officers. Dates have not been finalised but official sources said it is likely to be scheduled in early 2020.

A government official said a lot of complaints are overlooked when the regulator and service provider are the same. “Regulation going to DGCA will help make the licensing and regulation system foolproof,” he said.

An ATC officer, however, said the licensing authority going to DGCA is just a matter of department shift, as AAI’s licensing procedures were stringent and professional. “ATC is a serious job, where no one can be lax, and the licensing process with AAI was also conducted professionally,” the person said.

“We have enough strength to carry out the function of ATCO licensing and we are further hiring people,” a DGCA official said. The Union Public Service Commission, which hires people for government departments, is in the final stages of hiring 150 people for DGCA. “This will help strengthen our existing departments and help us perform our functions, licensing or otherwise, more efficiently,” the official said.

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