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Software glitch causes 90 percent pilots to fail exam

A technical snag in the online exam system caused the candidates to be wrongly graded out of 50 in a 100-marks paper, owing to which most did not make the grade

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) -- the country's sole aviation regulatory body -- is still trying to recover from the shock of the recently exposed fake pilot scam.

As a preventive measure against forgery, the body decided to conduct its pilot examinations online this time.

Ironically, however, this move backfired, when a software glitch caused a 100-mark examination to be graded on just 50, causing over 90 per cent of the examinees to believe that they had failed.  "The paper had 50 questions worth two marks each. Every candidate had to secure a minimum of 70 per cent marks to qualify.

During evaluation, the online software wrongly assigned one mark to each question, as a result of which each candidate was examined on 50 marks. The merit list, however, showed the full marks as 100. As a result, none of the 1,000 pilots who appeared for the ALT examination managed to pass the exam. Passing the exam is mandatory for officers who are seeking licenses as commanders," said a top DGCA source.

In the CPL category for commercial piloting licenses, only two-three percent of over 4,000 candidates managed to clear the examination.

Realising that the mass failure was a result of a software problem, DGCA chief E K Bharatbhushan wasted no time in declaring that the incident was a consequence of a software glitch, and said that a new merit list would be published this Monday.

This is the first online examination to be conducted in any category by the DGCA.

Teething troubles
DGCA is not the first agency that experienced teething troubles while making its foray into online examination. When the CAT exam was held online for the first time in 2009, hundreds of candidates reported system glitches, and were unable to take the test; servers collapsed, log-in problems cropped up, and technical snags were reported at 11 centres.

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