The downgraded Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) may soon be headless too. The Central government is learnt to have decided to repatriate current director-general, IAS officer Prabhat Kumar, to his parent UP cadre. In his place, Aviation ministry additional secretary and financial advisor M Sathiyavathy may be given additional charge as DGCA.
The Cabinet committee of appointments is learnt to have cleared the move late on Tuesday evening. However, the same could not be confirmed from the Aviation ministry till the time of going to press.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had earlier this year downgraded Indian Aviation safety ranking. The FAA just finished a review of the DGCA and is likely to decide by mid-February if India should get back its safety ranking.
Kumar had completed his central deputation period and was slated to be sent back to UP. However, a change at guard at DGCA at a time when India is expecting to get back its Aviation safety ranking has surprised some.
The FAA decision is expected in a few weeks. Based on FAA findings, the required steps to strengthen our shamefully weak regulatory system were being taken. Kumar was going to be repatriated for sure as he had completed his central deputation but we expected this to happen after the mid-February FAA decision," said a source. Kumar had taken over as DGCA last January.
Also, senior DGCA officers are learnt to be upset at being overlooked for the top job in the regulatory agency. The FAA downgrade has dealt a severe blow to Indian Aviation. Indian carriers Flying to US cannot add any more Flights or new destinations there. United, a leading American carrier, cannot have code share with fellow Star Alliance member Air India as the latter is from a country with downgraded ranking. Aircraft of both Indian carriers and charter companies face increased checks and surveillance at foreign Airports.
The change at DGCA comes at a time when a number of key Aviation agencies are either looking for new chiefs or being looked after part time by the second in command. The Airports Authority of India and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security are awaiting full time heads. The government is looking for a new Air India chairman as current chief Rohit Nandan has completed his tenure and is currently on extension here. Now, DGCA may also join the long list of headless Aviation agencies.