Thursday, June 08, 2017

DGCA withdraws police complaint against pilots for 'obscene message' against top official

 The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Wednesday withdrew a police complaint filed against 34 pilots for sharing obscene messages on WhatsApp against DGCA joint chief Lalit Gupta.
Gupta said: "Concerned airlines and the pilots involved have expressed regret on the issue. Airlines have also informed to put in place SOPs (standard operating procedures) on the issue and sensitize their personnel in this regard. Some of the parents of concerned pilots have met in DGCA and requested for solution so as not to impact their careers adversely. In view of all above, DGCA has withdrawn the complaint filed in this regard."
The DGCA had on Monday filed a police complaint against 34 pilots of four airlines — Jet, IndiGo, SpiceJet ad GoAir — who are participants of a WhatsApp group for "making obscene remarks" against a senior regulatory official. Based on this, 13 pilots were called to DGCA office on Tuesday morning from where they then taken to Lodhi Road police station for questioning.
Aviation minister Jayant Sinha has been stressing that pilots and DGCA must work together after which the de-escalation took place.
The bad blood between pilots and the official happened when they addressed him wrongly in a mail to oppose the doubling notice period of commanders to a year. Instead of saying joint DG, the letter addressed the official as "joint director", several notches below his position. Following this, DGCA had asked the airline to check the mental "alertness" of 10 of its pilots and see if they are fit enough to be allowed to fly.
The joint DG wrote back to the pilots, saying: "This shows your absent state of mind and not fit condition for flying as the alertness required to perform cockpit tasks appears to be missing. With absent mind, cockpit checks performed in a casual manner may create hazardous situation leading to compromise with safety of aircraft operations." The 34 pilots members of the WhatsApp group against whom the DGCA filed a police complaint for using obscene language against this official are, however, not the pilots who wrongly addressed the joint DG in their mails.
After the police questionning, the confrontation had snowballed, with pilots on Wednesday asking the government to act against the official. In a letter to aviation minister Ashok G Raju, the unions of Jet Airways and Air India pilots have collectively sought "immediate suspension and departmental action" against Lalit Gupta.
08/06/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India