Kites and balloons — “whether fixed or free” — are included in the list of aircraft under the rules governing Indian aviation. Legally speaking, flying a kite needs a licence just like one needed to fly a plane. Flying a kite without a licence is reason enough to land you in jail.
You don’t need a licence to operate your ‘wireless’ mobile phone. But aviation rules stipulate that a pilot must have a radio telephonic licence from ministry of communication to fly planes. The radio telephonic licence is a concept from an era where wireless communication was limited. America does not require its commercial pilots to have this licence.
Any police officer above the rank of constable can ask for the pilots’ licence for inspection. The security team of a SPG protectee recently did just that. Indian skies may be home to the world’s most modern aircraft but the country’s civil aviation is still governed by rules framed over eight decades ago. Though amended from time to time, several gems like the ones mentioned above remain in force even today under the Aircraft Act, 1934 and Aircraft Rules, 1937.
The Modi government has now begun a process to completely revamp aviation safety and security by having contemporary rules and not those which might have been more relevant in Wright Brother’s time.
“The ministry has started a long term project of rewriting the regulatory framework governing the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). Some of the rules were written over 40 to 50 years old and are out of tune with the contemporary times,” aviation secretary R N Choubey told TOI. “This work will be done in strict consultation with all stakeholders and nothing will be done that may compromise safety and security. In fact, the idea is to strengthen the safety and security framework by making it contemporary,” Choubey added. India will look closely at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to its good regulatory record.
One of the biggest grouses is over radio telephony licence required by pilots. “DGCA requires a pilot to have a radio telephonic licence from the ministry of communication based on which the regulator issues the flight radio telephone operator’s licence and only then can a pilot apply for a commercial pilot licence (CPL),” said a senior pilot.