New Delhi: The fake pilot saga keeps getting bigger. Four more people, including an official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), have been arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with the 'fake flying licence' scam.
The arrested DGCA official, Pradeep Kumar, was the Assistant Director in charge of licensing till January. This is the first time that an official of the aviation regulator has been arrested in the scam. Other arrests include a pilot and two touts. With the fresh arrests, a total of eight people have been taken into custody in connection with the racket.
Pradeep Kumar allegedly took Rs 25,000 for each file he cleared. In January, he was transferred from his post after his role came under suspicion.
"Pradeep Kumar was paid off to ensure there was no hitch in file movements," said Ashok Chand, DCP, Crime Branch.
But the man who is allegedly behind the forged marksheets which exposed the entire fake pilots issue almost a month ago is Pradeep Tyagi. Not only did he himself have a fake pilots licence, he allegedly helped several others get fake licences, after charging Rs 6 lakh.
Even though Pradeep Tyagi himself wasn't hired by any airline, the Delhi Police says he was more dangerous being the mastermind of the racket.
"If further anyone else is involved, they will also be arrested. My ministry will not allow anyone with fake licences to fly. We're going step by step, now the step is widening" said Vayalar Ravi, Civil Aviation Minister. (Watch)
The minister also said that the Director General of Civil Aviation had discussed the matter with him "more than once" and steps are being taken to address the issue.
The DGCA had recently grounded 14 pilots who had obtained their commercial licences by submitting fake records and documents.
To get a commercial licence as a co-pilot, a candidate must have passed class 12 with Physics and Maths, passed the flying exams of the DGCA, and have clocked at least 250 flying hours over five years.
To qualify as Captain, candidates need to have 1,500 flying hours as a co-pilot, and they must clear the DGCA's advanced flying exams.
So far, investigators have found that all sorts of documents have been forged - from mark sheets for Class 12 exams for Maths and Physics, to certificates for flying hours, where flying instructors collude with candidates. While the flying club saves money, students sail through faster to the next round.
Even in examinations conducted by the DGCA, students who failed forged their mark sheets and submitted these to the aviation body which did not corroborate the marks against its own records.
The 14 pilots whose licenses have been revoked had allegedly not flown the mandatory hours and are alleged to have got fake certificates from a Rajasthan flying training institute.
DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan had recently said that the Commercial Pilot Licences (CPLs) of around 10,000 pilots were under the scanner, besides about 4,000 holders of Airline Transport Pilot Licences (ATPLs).
He had also said that the DGCA would conduct third-party audit of all the 40 flying schools in the country in the wake of cases of forgery behind securing of licences coming to light.
(With PTI Inputs)