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The Parliament passed the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020, to bring the Aircraft Act, 1934 in alignment with the internationally established standards, procedures plus practices as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation ( hereinafter referred as ICAO).
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, the audit conducted in the year 2012 and 2105 by the ICAO point towards a necessitate amending the Aircraft Act:
- to give proper recognition to the regulators under the Act;
- to empower the departmental officers; and
- to enhance the maximum quantum of fines.
The Bill affords to give the existing bodies the status of statutory bodies, which are presently regulatory institutions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation:
- Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
- Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
- Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB)
A Director-General, as appointed by the central government will be the head of all these bodies.
Offences and Penalties
At present, the Act provides a penalty of imprisonment of up to two years or of fine up to Rs 10 lakh, or both, for offences. According to the recommendation of the ICAO, the Bill proposes to lift up the maximum limit on fines for all these offences from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.
Powers to Central Government
The bill provides Central Government with the power to cancel the licences, certificates or approvals granted to a person under the Act if the person breaches any of the stipulated provisions of the Act.
The Bill states for the appointment of designated officers, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to adjudicate penalties under the Bill. An appeal against the order of a designated officer may be made before an appellate officer, within 30 days.
Exemption for Armed Forces
The Bill exempts Aircraft belonging to the naval, military, or air forces of the Union from the provisions of the Act.
On the other hand, aircrafts belonging to an armed force other than the naval, military, and air forces which are currently regulated under the Act will carry on to do so until specified otherwise by the central government.
The Bill also states for control of the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import and export of aircraft; and regulation of all areas of air navigation services.