The Aircraft Act was proposed to make a provision for the control of the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import, and export of aircraft. Aircraft Act, 1934 governs aviation in India. Aircraft Act, 1934 is an Act of Parliament in India. According to section 2 of The Aircraft Act, 1934 the word “aircraft” is defined as a machine that can procure or attain balance in the atmosphere from the reactions of air, and the word aircraft also includes balloons, whether fixed or free, kites, airships, flying objects, etc.
Aircraft Act, 1934 applies all over India and applies to people of India and also to the aircraft and other flying objects registered outside India but which are flying in India. Act also applies to an aircraft handled or controlled by a non-resident Indian but who has his principal place of business in India. Section 2 of Aircraft Act, 1934 also defines the word aerodrome, this word means any explicit or restricted or finite ground or water area considered to be used, either wholly or in part for the purpose of landing and departure of aircraft, and also includes all the sheds, vessels, and other structure thereon for the purpose of landing and departure.
AMENDMENTS IN AIRCRAFT ACT,1934
Recently Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed in Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020.
Why was an amendment needed in Aircraft Act, 1934? India is a party that has agreed and signed the agreement to the Convention on International Civil Aviation which was also referred to as the Chicago Convention of 1944 and has vomited to provide safe and well-planned operations of aircraft within its airspace.
The amendment would satisfy or deliver the safety requirements of The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). International Civil Aviation Organisation is the United Nations global aviation watchdog. [i]
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) changes the concept and approach of international air navigation and promotes the safety and development and growth of international air transport for guaranteeing safety. International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is having an active legal status and the headquarters of ICAO is situated in Montreal, Canada.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had carried out the universal safety oversight audit programme for India in November 2017 and in February 2018. India’s audit result showed that there was a need to amend the old regulatory framework and to bring safety standards and security standards up to the mark. The result showed that country’s score declined to 57.44% from 65.82 % earlier, placing the rank of India below its neighboring country Pakistan and Nepal.
NEED FOR AMENDMENT BILL
The bill converts the three existing bodies under (MCA) Ministry of Civil Aviation into statutory bodies under the Act.
- These commanding authorities are,
- The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which will be controlling safety oversight and regulatory functions.[ii]
- Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) which will be controlling regulatory oversight function related to civil aviation security.[iii]
- The Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) name itself defines its work which is carrying out investigations related to aircraft accidents and incidents. [iv]
Each of these commanding bodies will be headed by a Director-General appointed by the centre. In few cases, Central Government may issue guidelines and directions to these commanding authorities on matters if considered necessary in the public interest.
WHAT ARE THE OFFENCES AND PENALTIES UNDER THE AIRCRAFT ACT, 1934?
Any offence like carrying arms, explosives, or other dangerous goods aboard aircraft and anyone who is contravening any rules under act and construction of any building or structure within the limit of aerodrome reference point can be punishable with a penalty of imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine up to 1 crore according to the new bill. Under the bill, the central government can also repudiate the licences, certificates, or approval granted to a person under the act if he contravenes any provisions of this act.
Exemptions for Armed Forces:
Aircraft and other flying objects belonging to The Naval, Military, or Airforce of the union are exempted from the provisions of the act. Also, the bill exempts aircraft belonging to any other armed forces of the union.
Is it legal to fly a kite in India?
According to the Act, Aircraft Act, 1934 kite flying without permission is not legal. Yes, you heard it right in India if anyone wants to fly a kite, they have to take permission, or otherwise, they can be arrested and charged according to the aircraft act, 1934.
Violation by pilots leads to suspension or termination:
An incident took place on July 2, 2019, when the plane was operating a Pune – Kolkata flight. The plane was operated by Aarati Gunasekaran and Saurabh Gulia.
When the pilots were reaching the runway for landing, they damaged the edge lights of the runway which shows the lack of responsibility of pilots, if this happened who knew the plane had gone into a crash. So, for punishing the pilots DGCA suspended both of the pilots for six months.
In mid-2020, when a pilot whistle blew his company DGCA has ethically performed an inspection for the said issue and got the guilty heads and suspended them according to the provisions under Aircraft Act, 1934. The pilot is none other than Gaurav Taneja and the company was Air Asia. Airline Air Asia with the intention of reserving some portion of fuel on every flight and not complying with the norms of DGCA during COVID times was also charged by DGCA and the heads of department of Airline Air Asia were also charged for the same.
India has done great work and has become the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world. According to the data published by authorities, it is said that India has one of the finest safety indexes in the world as aircraft accidents in the country are very less when compared to an average of other nations. Aircraft Act, 1934 has all the essential rules and guidelines for ensuring the safety of people and for not having a corrupt management as it is controlled by the centre. The centre can and has the power to amend or to repudiate any contravening procedures in the public interest.
Author’s Name: Sidharth R Mehta (Bennett University, Greater Noida)