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Jyotiraditya Scindia, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia

With the country’s civil aviation space projected to see substantial growth in the coming years, the government is working to augment the manpower and capabilities of regulators DGCA and BCAS. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) takes care of the safety aspects, while the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is in charge of the security aspects in the sector. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday said both the regulators are completely independent.

“My job is to ensure accountability, both on the safety side and the security side… Now, with the huge expansion we are seeing in the civil aviation sector, (it is) even more pertinent that we augment the staffing and capabilities of both DGCA and BCAS. That is something that I am working on as we speak,” he said. The current manpower and staff requirements at the regulators could not be immediately ascertained.

In the coming years, India is projected to have 400 million air travellers, including domestic and international flyers, and the number of planes with Indian carriers is estimated to rise to 1,200. Besides, the number of airports, heliports and waterdromes is expected to increase to 220. The country’s civil aviation sector is on the recovery path after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

To a query related to the disinvestment of Air India, Scindia said ministers and bureaucrats handling the affairs of public sector undertakings on a day-to-day basis is not a healthy sign, adding that the government’s role should be that of a visionary. “My hands are quite full with or without Air India. While I was the minister, I did not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of Air India.

As passenger volume is set to double from 200 million currently to 400 million over the next 7 to 10 years, there needs to be anchor airlines at particular airports, more wide-body aircraft as well as synergy between domestic and international departures, the Civil Aviation Minister said at CEO’s Roundtable event.

“I am very confident that under the new management, it (Air India) will soar to new heights… with fleet expansion plans, a reservoir of expertise on IT and hospitality fronts, I believe that lot of that should come to bear on the value proposition of customers of Air India in the days to come,” Scindia said.

Loss-making Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express were taken over by Tatas in January this year. According to him, the next technology paradigm that is going to happen once FAA and EASA give their approvals is Electric Vertical Take off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) are American and European aviation regulators, respectively.

“That (eVTOLs) industry must also make its core base in India. That is one of the things that I am exploring as we talk today,” Scindia said. eVTOLs are being deployed by the US Air Force and the Canadian Air Force. Once there is a Proof of Concept (PoC), then they can go for a certification from FAA and EASA.

Scindia also said that civil aviation has been part of “our DNA for a very very long time”. “We had seaplanes in India in the 1910s and 1920s… We had a seaplane landing in a man-made lake in Gwalior way back in the 1910s, 1920s,” he added.

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