While politicians across party lines continue to break rules during the election season, aircraft owned by them are doing the same in the air, shows a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) audit.
The DGCA, on Sunday, grounded a plane of Span Air, a general aviation company owned by the family of urban development minister Kamal Nath. This happened a day after the aviation regulator grounded a Cessna 525A, owned by Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal-promoted Orbit Aviation.
The DGCA also grounded aircraft owned by Business Jets India Private Limited, a Tata Group company, in which Aam Aadmi Party leader GR Gopinath has business interest. Air charter service provider Deccan Charters, owned by Gopinath, had formed an alliance with Taj Air (the charter service of Indian Hotels Company) and Business Jets India (BJETS) in 2011. The deal made Deccan Charters the exclusive marketing concessionaire for BJETS aircraft in India.
Span Air’s grounded aircraft is a Hawker 900XP and bears VT-BKL registration and the one owned by Business Jets India is a Cessna-525A bearing VT-BJA registration. “The violations by both aircraft are serious. The life vest on the Span Air aircraft had expired and the crew were not trained in safety and emergency procedures. On the top of that, the operations and the route guide manuals on the aircraft were outdated,” said a DGCA official, on condition of anonymity.
When contacted, a Span Air official said they will reply to the observations raised by the aviation regulator. The company operates a fleet of four aircraft – a Premier 1A, a seven-seater Beech Super King Air B-200; and Bell 420 and Bell 407GX helicopters.
The Business Jets India aircraft was found to be carrying luggage in the lavatory of the plane. “While the rules say that you can not carry luggage inside the aircraft, the lavatory of aircraft registered with Business Jets India was full of luggage. The crew were not trained in safety procedures and the operator’s manual and log books were not updated,” the official said.