1. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) hired these inspectors over a year ago to carry out airline surveillance.
2. They are called flight operations inspectors, or FOIs, who need to ensure international air safety standards. Most of them are experienced pilots.
3. But the DGCA found out that on the pretext of carrying out inspections, some of these inspectors, or FOIs, take flights from Delhi to Mumbai or Kolkata on Fridays and return on Mondays mainly to be with their families. And yes, they fly free of cost.
4. As ToI reported, the entire episode came to light when a low-cost airline had complained about it to the DGCA after one of the inspectors who has business interests in Mumbai threw around his weight and shouted at the pilots on duty every Friday and Monday. The man used to take a Delhi-Mumbai flight every Friday and would return to the capital on Monday or Tuesday, according to the report.
5. But the problem cropped up, as pilots refused to operate on the day when the said inspector was around. The airline found it difficult as pilots called in sick. So, it decided to approach the DGCA.
6. First, the DGCA had an informal inquiry which established that some inspectors were misusing their position to manage their weekend schedules. The private airlines, which always fear the DGCA, used to keep it confidential and silently obliged to the demands of the inspectors.
7. Meanwhile, the DGCA chief flight operations inspector alerted all inspectors and called traveling to their home bases on weekends in the name of conducting surveillance, as “irregular” and “inappropriate”. The order further said that prior permission would now be needed for the inspectors to fly with airlines. That means, the inspectors can no longer prepare their duty charts.