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Bill to replace DGCA by new aviation regulator likely to be tabled in Parliament: report

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New Delhi:

A bill to replace the DGCA by a new aviation regulator with full operational and financial autonomy is likely to be tabled in Parliament in the next part of the Budget Session starting later this month, official sources said today.

The bill would establish the new regulator, to be called the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which would replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and administer and regulate civil aviation safety and managing safety oversight over air transport operators, air service navigation operators and operators of other civil aviation facilities.

Interestingly, the proposed CAA, like the DGCA, would also deal with matters relating to financial stress on safety of air operations, as witnessed in connection with the closure of the bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines in October last year.

Issues relating to consumer protection and environment regulations in civil aviation sector would also be addressed by the CAA, according to the draft legislation.

The CAA is being established by the government to meet the standards set by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and in line with aviation regulators in other countries like the US Federal Aviation Administration and UK's CAA, the sources said.

Noting that DGCA had limited delegation of financial powers and hence was "incapable of making adequate structural changes" to meet the demands of a dynamic civil aviation sector, they said this necessitated its replacement with CAA that would have more administrative and financial power to deal with the fast-changing aviation scenario.

The estimated cost of establishing the new Authority would be around Rs 112 crore, they said.

The CAA would have a Chairperson, a Director General and 7-9 members qualified in the fields of aviation safety, aircraft engineering, flight standard operations, aerodromes, air navigation systems and air space management, among others.

They would be appointed by the Centre on recommendations of a Selection Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, as per the draft bill.

The CAA would be self-financing and have a separate fund called the 'Civil Aviation Authority of India Fund' that would finance its entire expenses.

In addition, it would get budgetary support, the sources said, adding that the new regulator would be empowered to fix various fees and charges including those on passengers.

With full functional and financial autonomy, the CAA would be able to directly recruit its own staff, decide on their pay structure and have powers to fix and collect fees for rendering services like safety oversight and surveillance of air navigation services.

At present, the DGCA, which is severely short-staffed, recruits its employees, mostly technical, through the long-drawn process of the UPSC leading to delay in induction of employees.

Like the DGCA, the CAA would issue licences, permits, certificates, approvals and any other legal authority or document under the Aircraft Act, 1934 and rules for the safety of civil aviation sector.

Besides regulating the activities of air transport operators and providing regulations for airports, airlines and other civil aviation activities, it would draw up a State Safety Programme and approve safety management systems.

The CAA would recommend to the Centre amendments to the Aircraft Act and the rules to meet the evolving situations, the draft bill said. 

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