Monday, March 14, 2011

'Fake pilots' may have been conned themselves

NEW DELHI: Fake commanders who fudged marksheets to get to the captain's seat may have been conned themselves. Here's how: co-pilots failing the exam to become commanders are routinely approached by touts with the promise of having their papers "re-evaluated" for the pass mark required. 

And with the DGCA exam database being inaccessible to even its head office, verification is not possible at the time of submission. 

Pilots cough up between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh (sometimes as a bank draft) for a package deal — real marksheets with no reds and a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) licence for commandership. But what the commanders do not realize is that the middlemen may after all be handing them fake marksheets that will show up when checked with the original database. 

The double-con came to light when top aviation officials began probing licences on the directive of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after a woman pilot repeatedly landing on the nosewheel was found to have forged a marksheet. "A number of industry people have told us middlemen involved in this racket ask the co-pilots to fill up forms for re-evaluation and even take bank drafts to make it look real," said an official connected with the probe. "They are learnt to ask for Rs 5-7 lakh for this task and then (for) getting a licence issued. Co-pilots see this as a foolproof way of doing an illegal thing." 

But what pushes co-pilots to acquire an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) by fraudulent means, paying a huge "fee" to boot? "By the time a co-pilot is eligible to become commander in terms of number of hours flown, his or her monthly salary is about Rs 2 lakh," said an official. "On becoming commander, the salary doubles to Rs 4 lakh. If someone is not able to pass the ATPL exam, the monetary loss is a whopping Rs 24 lakh annually. So it makes economic sense for such people to pay Rs 5-7 lakh and become a commander as the cost will be recovered in just four months." 

What makes the job easier for the tout and his client alike is that the DGCA has no way of verifying the documents at the time of submission. Marksheets are issued to pilots from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's central examination office in R K Puram, south Delhi. These have to be submitted, along with other documents, at the DGCA's head office opposite Safdarjung Airport. 

The head office cannot cross-check the documents against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation database because the exam office computers are not part of the intra-network. Not by accident, though. Exam records were kept delinked to prevent hackers from getting through — now working to the benefit of those forging their papers to fly millions across the country and abroad. 

Officials say checks will be put in place now, before licences are issued. "There were some cases where people submitted fake education degrees and we started verifying them with the universities. Now, we are devising way to cross-check the marksheets submitted for issuance of licences with original records. This will be done even if it means a delay of a couple of days in the licence process," said a senior official.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Extraminds feeds

NDTV News - Top Stories

There was an error in this gadget

Latest Happenings all around the world Headline Animator