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Licence of Balwa's private air charter firm suspended

Last Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 20:15

New Delhi: The licence of 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa's private air charter firm has been suspended following a safety audit carried out by the ICAO and aviation regulator DGCA, official sources said Monday.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in the audit carried out last week on some airlines and two private non-scheduled operators including Balwa's company Eon Aviation, found discrepancies in its safety parameters.

Maintaining that the flying licence of Eon Aviation was suspended by DGCA after the findings, the sources said the company would be able to operate chartered flights only after these discrepancies were rectified and steps taken to improve safety facilities.

Eon Aviation, whose aircraft are chartered by prominent politicians and corporates, is a subsidiary of Balwa's company DB Realty.

The ICAO had carried out the safety audit on airlines like SpiceJet and Air India, apart from Eon Aviation. The audit did not find any major discrepancy in the case of these scheduled airlines.

Following this safety audit, the ICAO audit team informed the DGCA that it would recommend the removal of India from the list of nations having significant aviation safety concerns as action plans were in place to address them.

Earlier this year, India had been clubbed by the ICAO with countries like Congo, Guatemala, Haiti and Hungary which had 'significant safety concerns'.

The week-long audit has shown that India has "implemented corrective action plans to address the safety concerns satisfactorily," DGCA chief Arun Mishra had earlier told PTI. The formal clearance by ICAO is likely to come within a week or 10 days.

The ICAO's audit findings are significant as, if found otherwise, India could have been permanently downgraded in terms of following aviation safety norms.

Normally, such a downgrade could have global ramifications and, among other things, lead other countries not to allow the airlines of the downgraded nation to fly in their skies or ensure stoppage of sale of aviation products, including aircraft and spares.

A major concern the ICAO expressed was about safety issues concerning non-scheduled or chartered air operators.

This had led DGCA to issue two successive orders on August 21 and 22 notifying the air charter firms and other private operators that they could not fly abroad until they applied for and got the required certification.

The certification would imply that the aviation regulator would carry out a complete safety check on their entire air operational and safety capabilities.

There are about 130 non-scheduled operators in India, of whom about 45 fly abroad regularly.


First Published: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 20:15
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