Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020
The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has been passed by the Parliament recently.
- The Bill gives statutory powers to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau.
- The Bill empowers the DGCA to levy enhanced penalties of upto ₹1 crore, from the existing ₹10 lakh, on airlines, airports and other aviation entities.
- The amendments also address several regulatory shortcomings that were highlighted by aviation watchdogs of the United Nations and the U.S. — the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Federal Aviation Authority — during their audits on safety and security in the Indian aviation ecosystem.
- The changes include recognising regulatory bodies such as the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which were set up through various government notifications but did not have a defined role under the parent Act, as well as air navigation services.
Need for amendments
- The ICAO, under its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme and the Universal Security Audit Programme, regularly conducts safety and security audits of all countries which are signatory to the Chicago Convention to ensure they are carrying out their safety and security oversight functions.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States also conducts safety audits of countries whose airlines operate to the US under its International Aviation Safety Assessment Programme.
- India, as a signatory, is also subjected to periodic audits by ICAO and the FAA. According to government sources, the audits conducted by the ICAO in 2012 and 2015 indicated a need to amend the Aircraft Act to give proper recognition to the regulators under the Act, to enhance the maximum quantum of fines and to empower the departmental officers to impose financial penalties on individuals or organisations involved in violations of the legal provisions and to include certain areas of air navigation services for rule-making purposes under Section 5 of the Act.
About the Aircraft Act, 1934
- The Aircraft Act of 1934 was enacted to make provisions for the control of the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import and export of aircraft.
- It makes provisions for securing the safety of aircraft operations in India, and for carrying out civil aviation operations as per internationally accepted standards, procedures and practices as laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).