Thursday, May 25, 2017

DGCA rules on no-fly list: Regulations need to balance passenger rights too

New Delhi: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation watchdog, recently issued a Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) regarding the handling of unruly and disruptive passengers. Issued under the Aircraft Rules, 1937, and framed in pursuance of the Indian Aircraft Act, 1934, the CAR acknowledges that unruly behaviour of any sort, on board an aircraft or during embarkation and disembarkation, interferes with the performance of crew members’ duties. It also notes that such disruptive behaviour jeopardises the safety of the aircraft, the persons on board and, most importantly, affects good order and discipline on a plane. Recognising the potential harm, any kind of disruptive behaviour is now likely to invite penal action in accordance with these proposed requirements.
The definition of a disruptive passenger under the CAR is very wide and also somewhat vague to include any passenger who disturbs “good order” and “discipline”. These terms haven’t been defined in the proposed requirements but include inter-alia individuals who illegally consume narcotics or cigarettes while on board, individuals who refuse to comply with safety instructions, any passenger who verbally or physically confronts a crew members or other passengers or threatens them which could affect the safety of the crew, other passengers and aircraft or any individual who sexually abuses or harasses a member of the crew or another passenger.
The proposed requirements contain three levels of interference – level 1 (light), level 2 (moderate), and level 3 (serious/flight decks) – making the CAR in consonance with international industry recommendations.
The above-noted CAR applies to all Indian operators engaged in scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, both in the domestic and international sector. They also apply to foreign carriers engaged in scheduled air transport operating to and from India, all airport operators within Indian territory, and all passengers during their air travel in and over India.
The CAR also stipulates that conditions of carriage shall include statutory warnings specifying the acts which have been declared as unlawful or disruptive. Airlines are now also expected to establish standard operating procedures to deal with unruly or disruptive passengers while at the airport or on board an aircraft.
25/05/17 Satvik Varma & Vikrant Pachnanda/Business Standard