The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will withdraw permissions given to all air operators’ permit (AOP) holders to fly worldwide from July 1, 2015. All scheduled airlines and charter operators, henceforth, will have to submit requisite proposals and demonstrate operational capability to fly to different geographic regions across the world barring which their operations will be restricted to within India.
Experts have said the new norm will particularly hit hard non-scheduled operators (engaged in charter operations) as they have non-planned operations and it would be difficult for them to know before-hand what regions they need to have permits for. Besides, both scheduled airlines and non-scheduled operators may lose flexibility and find it difficult to schedule flight crew, given that they may require specific training to fly to different geographic areas.
“This is to inform that the ‘Worldwide’ in the area of operations under the Operations Specifications of each aircraft endorsed in the AOP of all existing operators shall be withdrawn w.e.f 1st July 2015 and the areas of operations would be restricted to the geographical regions/areas for which the operator has demonstrated the capabilities to undertake flight operations,” the DGCA has said. There are 13 scheduled airlines and 122 non-scheduled operators registered with the DGCA. A senior official in DGCA said, “At present, AOP holders conduct their proving flights in India and then fly their aircraft out of the country. For instance, pilots are required to have undergone special training for operating Trans-Atlantic flights.
There is no regulatory oversight to check if required safety norms are being met currently. All scheduled airlines and NSOPs would now have to demonstrate their capability in operating to specific geographic regions.”
Operators who fail to comply with the order would be barred from operating out of the country. Jet Airways and Air India – the two airlines which operate long-haul flights out of India – can continue with their existing international operations as they have recently been re-certified by the regulator.
They would, however, have to submit fresh proposals and conduct demo flights if they seek to launch flights to any new region in the world. All other operators would have to go through the process of obtaining region-specific permits for international operations.
IndiGo and SpiceJet declined to comment on the new norm. A spokesperson at Jet Airways confirming the development said, “We are compliant with DGCA’s requirements and additional areas as and when required will be added by following the established processes.” Industry experts, however, said the new regulation will make it very difficult for charter operators to be in business.
Former DGCA Kanu Gohain said, “Charter operations are demand driven and requests for service come up at a short notice. Given that their operations are non-planned, it will be difficult for them to meet requirements for region specific approvals as per the new rule. Besides, they operate with limited resources, how will they arrange for flight crew trained as per specifications for various regions?”
In response to a query, Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) said, “We request for information on what have been the changes in qualitative requirements necessitating fresh certification after 30th June 2015.”
BAOA said operators would need clarity on geographical regions in which DGCA proposes to divide the world. The group has also said it would need information about “specific requirements with regard to capabilities to be demonstrated by existing operators for each of the proposed geographical regions/areas being decided by DGCA”.