The Directorate General for Civil Aviation, which is India’s aviation regulator, does not have a clue of what it can and what it can’t do. As a result, people in their office think that they can regulate anything that has the word aviation in it, or air, or something like that. They’ve tried intervening in fare sales, airline pricing and so on. However, from the “About DGCA” page on their website, updated in September 2013, their key function is listed below as:

Directorate General of Civil Aviation is the regulatory body governing the safety aspects of civil aviation in India.

I consider that sorted then, about the real purpose of DGCA is to take care of aviation safety and that should be its domain. So, until it becomes the CAA and does not undo its downgrade to category II by the FAA, the key focus should be aviation standards.

Instead, it came out with a new circular on Monday, which details facilities that should be provided to passengers at airports. Have a go at this:

  • Airline/airport operator shall ensure provision of automated buggies free of charge for all senior citizens, expectant mothers and disabled passengers in the terminal building to facilitate their access to boarding gates located beyond reasonable walking distance at all airports having annual aircraft movements of 50,000 or more. This facility may be extended to other needy passengers on demand basis free of charge.
  • Airport operators shall provide small trolleys after security check for
    carriage of hand baggage (permitted as per regulation) up to the boarding gate.
  • Airport operator shall adequately display information regarding
    availability of automated buggies and small trolleys in the terminal building at prominent locations including dos and don’ts regarding the same.

Further, they’ve put penal provisions in place if ground staff do not behave politely with customers.

Now, to me, this clearly is a move by a confused DGCA trying to get their mojo back and overstepping their authority. They are trying to make their problem of receiving customer complaints someone else’s, but in the process forgetting the protocol would have been to have Airports Authority of India deal with it.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | No Comments

A few weeks back I had written about the regulatory notification which modified the rules for the use of Personal Electronic Devices on airplanes while in flight and on the ground. Since then, I’ve waited for airlines to go ahead and execute the rules on the ground. I’m glad to report now it is no issue to use your electronics on board. Here is a collection of various domestic airlines and how they are implementing the rule at this moment:

  • SpiceJet: SpiceJet was the first off the block. They claim they were the first to implement the revised rules, however they are allowing the use of PEDs/phones only above 10,000 feet even now. As per their COO, they don’t find it safe yet to have phones on during take off and landing stages.
  • Jet Airways/JetKonnect: Jet Airways has followed a similar interpretation like SpiceJet, and allows use of PEDs/phones only while cruise phase of the flight. However, last week on one of their flights, I do not remember an explicit announcement for me to switch off my devices. Read their Terms & Conditions under the Usage of Mobile Phones section.
  • Air India: I flew with Air India last week, and they allowed the use of PEDs/phones in flight gate to gate. The advise during security briefing has been changed from switching off mobile phones to putting all devices with a flight safe/flight mode to the transmission off mode.

  • Indigo: Mobile phones are allowed inflight, gate to gate, however in flight-safe/flight mode. Other PEDs are allowed only during the cruise mode of the flight, i.e., above 10,000 feet. I don’t think this has been worded properly, because ideally even iPads and tablets should be allowed on throughout the phases of the flight.

Now, I haven’t been on GoAir in a very long time, and their customer service team also did not respond to my query yet. I will update this post when I get an update from them.

What has been your experience in using your electronic devices on board since this month?

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 3 Comments

For the longest time, India has had a rule, which stated that Portable Electronic Devices could not be used while planes are airborne, not even in flight-safe/airplane mode. Not that it dissuaded passengers because we thought our rules were in line with the rest of the world and hence we continued to use them anyways. Sometimes you’d run into issues with airline staff, because they wanted compliance, but it would all pan out well in the end. Until the DGCA put SpiceJet in a mess for this incident on Holi.

Yesterday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India’s civil aviation regulator, decided to finally update the rulebook to bring it in line with the rest of the world. the last changes to these guidelines were made 14 years ago, and then now. Incidentally, the note going around via the DGCA website, does not have its own strength, but it depends on the work done by the FAA and EASA to determine that Indian carriers can also now authorise the use of Portable Electronic Devices, including Mobile Phones, in airplane mode. The new notification of rules, made last evening reads:

Electronic devices, intentionally transmitting radio signals like mobile/cellular phones, amateur radio transceivers, etc., if carried on board, shall be kept in non-transmitting mode (commonly referred to as Flight/Airplane Mode).

Earlier, passengers were allowed to only use their phones after exiting the active runway. Now, they will be able to keep it on and in Flight Mode throughout to use them for other purposes such as playing games, reading a book etc. Also, your Kindles and iPads are now considered safe for use throughout the flight.

However, this is still supposed to be included by various airlines in their safety manuals, so it would still be a few days before you can actually use your PEDs all through the flight. I hope that happens soon as well.

This puts India right behind the USA and UK in implementing new guidelines regarding the use of electronic devices gate to gate. Kudos!

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