'Why should pilots frisk the VIPs?'

Sep 28, 2014, 04:59 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

Rotary Wing Society of India writes to DGCA on exceeding flight duty time limitations, making pilots frisk politicians

Learning a lesson from the Lok Sabha elections, when pilots were on duty beyond their stipulated seven hours, and given the duty to check the baggage of politicians and VIPs that flew with them during rallies, the Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI) has written a feedback letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Along with improvement of the infrastructure of helipads and launching bases, RWSI has also asked the DGCA to look into the Air Safety Circular. The letter mentioned that the pilots were unhappy during the Lok Sabha Elections, as they were asked to check the baggage of any politician flying with them. “This job is usually done by the security agencies. It gives us a lot of stress, and the extra duty diverts us from our primary job. Even if we find something objectionable, it is very awkward to pull up a VIP. We refuse to do that during the Assembly elections,” a pilot said, on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, it was brought to the notice of the DGCA about how politicians, who took choppers to fly across the country for their rallies, ended up extending the maximum seven-hour duty of the crew beyond Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL). To add to that, the RWSI has requested the Election Commission to hold a workshop in each state for politicians and strictly enforce the DGCA safety guidelines.

K Sreedharan, National President of RWSI, said, “In case of female politicians, it becomes very awkward for a pilot to check the baggage. Checking luggage is not part of a pilot’s duty, then why should he/she do it? Pilots have refrained from doing any such thing in the Assembly elections.”

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