The confrontation between commercial pilots and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation over notice periods has snowballed into a massive controversy, with three pilotsâ€™ unions writing to the Aviation Minister asking that DGCA Joint Director General Lalit Gupta be suspended.
The letter â€“ written jointly by the Indian Pilotsâ€™ Guild, the Indian Commercial Pilotsâ€™ Association and the National Aviatorâ€™s Guild â€“ accuses Gupta of having â€śa personal agendaâ€ť against pilots, and of â€śmisusing his official powers to criminally intimidate, coerce and threaten members of the public.â€ť
The problem began when a few pilots submitted their opposition to a draft proposal to extend the notice period of pilots from six months to one year. Among the responses submitted, some 10 pilots had referred to Gupta by the wrong designation. According to the letter Gupta responded by questioning their mental health and fitness, and reporting them to their employers.
â€śAll of them have been de-rostered from flights,â€ť alleges the letter.
The pilotsâ€™ unions have also taken offence to the police complaint lodged by the DGCA with regard to â€śobsceneâ€ť messages targeting Gupta, which were circulating on some WhatsApp groups. â€śSome other airline pilots from a wide cross section of the industry, who had expressed personal views about these developments, in private internet chat groups, were reported to the Delhi police and harassed,â€ť says the letter.
In view of unfolding events, the three pilotsâ€™ unions allege that Gupta bears an â€śextraordinary interestâ€ť in the matter of notice periods, and is â€śforcefully suppressing dissentâ€ť. The letter also argues that the DGCA, as a safety regulator, should not intervene in employment matters.
â€śIt is also a sad irony that, on one hand, highly trained pilots are victimised and threatened by Mr Gupta with police and regulatory action, for merely airing their views against a draft policy or for expressing their personal views in private, and on the other hand, a VIP who recently assaulted an airline employee in full public view, was let scot free by the same DGCA machinery,â€ť states the letter.