Indian Probe Nets 19 Fake Pilots

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So far 19 airline pilots, including six captains, have been fired as a result of a government investigation into India's corruption-plagued aviation oversight system and the probe is only half complete. The Indian government is trying to restore confidence in its burgeoning air transport sector with the probe, which has uncovered widespread bribery, cheating and falsification in pilot testing and records. 'You really are messing with people's lives if you are messing with a pilot's licence," Neil Mills, CEO of SpiceJet, told the Sidney Morning Herald. As we reported last month, pilots have been discovered in airline cockpits without the required ratings, but the investigation is revealing the problem is not isolated and may actually be systemic.

In fact, one of the pilots fired by SpiceJet was Garima Passi, who was alleged to have received "preferential treatment" in the granting of her ATP. Passi's father, R.S. Passi, was the director of air safety for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation at the time. He's since been fired, too. Indian officials trying to mop up the mess say they are crippled by a lack of staff to adequately investigate the mountain of allegations in front of them. "It is not the question of just one case, or one DGCA director or one airline, and then we can fix it and get over it," Kapil Kaul, South Asia chief executive for the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, told the Herald. "It is a failure of the entire system."