Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security weighs exempting pilots from briefings by sky marshals

 New Delhi: Indian airlines, under the time gun to get their planes airborne at the earliest, have requested the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to exempt the cockpit crew from routine briefings by sky marshals at airports across the country.

The BCAS is working on this request made by airlines that believe their seasoned pilots do not need the routine skymarshal briefing: Skipping the chore could help pilots get the aircraft ready more quickly for the take-off, argue the carriers.

“The BCAS has asked Air India to compile the responses of all airlines and present it to BCAS, which will then call a meeting of all airlines to discuss the issue,” said an aviation ministry official, who did not want to be named.

This decision was taken in a monthly meeting held in April. A large number of international flights to destinations such as Nepal or Germany have sky marshals on board. Domestic flights to Jammu & Kashmir, and random flights to the North East, also follow the practice.

Sky marshals are armed, plainclothes security officers travelling on passengers jets. In India, they are drawn from the elite National Security Guard, an anti-terror force also equipped for, and trained in, anti-hijacking duties.

Since sky marshals carry a gun on flights, a briefing of the cabin crew, cockpit crew and other airline staff is called before the flight to acquaint them with the crew. Airlines believe that the cabin crew would need to interact with the sky marshal, and not the cockpit crew who remain beyond closed doors for the duration of the flight. Analysts also say there is no need for marshals to be acquainted with the cockpit crew.
30/05/17 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times