The fake pilot licence scam that is currently unfolding in the Suncontinent will have no impact on the operation of Indian carriers in the Middle East, assured a senior Indian minister.
Vylar Ravi, Indian Minister of Civil Aviation, told a press conference in Dubai on Monday that 14 Indian pilots have been arrested so far for obtaining licences fraudulently - some of them allegedly tampered mark sheets.
About 1,700 licences issued in the last two years are being probed by a special committee. Officials at the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are being questioned and one senior official involved in the racket has been arrested, he added.
Meanwhile, about 40 aviation schools that train pilots in India are also being scrutinised, according to Indian media reports.
The DGCA allegedly issued thousands of such flying licences.
"We have more than 5,000 licensed pilots in India. The crackdown on fake pilot licences will not have any direct impact on our flight operations,” said Ravi.
Meanwhile, a pilot who worked for the Indian national carrier told 'Emirates24|7' that senior officials in charge of pilot recruitment have been liberally giving licences to their sons, daughters or close relatives. “An officer who was in charge of recruiting pilot training gave the first licence to his own son. There has been growing resentment among pilots about this type of corruption and nepotism.”
The state-owned carrier has set up a three-member committee to look into the documents submitted by pilots, including their qualifications. The panel will submit its report to the Air India Chief Vigilance Officer.
The investigation focusses on more than 3,000 pilots of the airline, especially 1,700 new licences issued in the last two years. The DGCA also cancelled the pilot licence examination that was scheduled in March.
Bharat Bhushan, a senior Indian Civil Aviation officer also said 14 pilots who possessed fake documents had their licences revoked.
The first pilot to be arrested was Parminder Kaur Gulati, of Indigo airline. Regulators found her violating landing rules in January.
Investigations found that she submitted a fake mark sheet. She was immediately sacked.
V K Varma, an Indian Airline pilot, was also arrested for possessing a fake licence.
Non-Resident Indians, who are just recovering from the shock of the Air India Express plane crash in Mangalore that killed 158 passengers, are shocked and angry. They urged relevant authorities to take stringent action against fraudsters.