The Aircraft Amendment Bill 2020 was recently passed in the Parliament, which now awaits approval from the President of India. The move would add autonomy and authority to the aviation agencies, which has been on demand since long.
Crux of the Matter
On 15 September 2020, the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed in the Rajya Sabha; the bill was approved by the Lok Sabha in March 2020. The amendment would be modifying the Aircraft Act, 1934.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reported that 300,000 passengers were managed by Indian airports daily before the Covid-19 pandemic, and also announced the addition of 100 new airports by 2024.
Minister Puri declared that suggestions by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) after audit in 2012 have been incorporated in the amendment.
- Aviation agencies like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) would now be converted into statutory bodies.
The move grants more authority in decision making and penal action to the agencies, each of which would have a Director-General appointed by the Central Government.
- DGCA would supervise on safety measures and regulatory functions, while the BCAS would regulate functioning concerning security in civil aviation. The AAIB would work on investigations regarding aircraft accidents.
- Highest fine has been increased from ₹10 lakhs to ₹1 crore. These fines are levied on offences like carrying banned items in the plane (ammunition, explosives etc) or for illegal construction in the vicinity of an airport).
- Provision for suspending/canceling of “licence, certificate of approval” for breach of rules under the Act has been added. These licenses include those provided for establishing and maintaining airport systems and the aircrafts.
- Aircraft of any “armed forces” besides Navy, Military and Airforce would also be exempted now from the Aircraft Act – includes agencies like BSF. Earlier, only Army, Navy and Airforce aircraft were exempted from the Act.
- Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade was an Indian technical instructor in the art and craft department of Sir JJ School of Art, who, as per some reports, constructed the first unmanned aircraft in 1895. A film based on the life of Talpade, Hawaizaada, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, was released in 2015.
- Hardeep Singh Puri is an Indian politician and the current Civil Aviation Minister of India. Hardeep has served as Joint secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of External Affairs from 1994 to 1997 and from 1999 to 2002.
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines founded in 1945. Consisting in 2016 of 290 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total available seat miles air traffic.
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