India checks pilots after finding fake licenses

AP News
Posted: Mar 14, 2011 8:04 AM
India checks pilots after finding fake licenses

Indian authorities have begun checking the licenses of all airline pilots in the country after at least four were found to be flying using fake documents, a top civil aviation official said Monday.

Two pilots were arrested last week for using fake certificates to gain licenses, including a pilot with national carrier Air India who falsified his qualifications. The other two pilots were being investigated for irregularities in their flying licenses.

The licenses and other documents of all 4,000 pilots flying commercial aircraft in the country will be scrutinized, said Bharat Bhushan, director general of civil aviation.

A second pilot was arrested last week after damaging an aircraft while landing and a scrutiny of her papers showed she had used fake documents to get a license, Bhushan said.

"Fake licenses are very few so there is no need to panic," Bhushan said.

Opposition lawmakers Monday accused the government of failing to check corruption in granting licenses and endangering the lives of thousands of travelers.

Civil Aviation Minister Vyalar Ravi told Parliament last week that authorities had taken action against 57 pilots who reported for duty drunk over the past two years.

Ten were fired and some others had their licenses suspended or were taken off the flying roster for short periods, Ravi said.

Air travel has boomed in India on the back of a growing economy, leading to the rise of a slew of private airlines that have been struggling to hire pilots.