20-yr legal battle for pilot licence pays off

May 6, 2018

Chandigarh: It took an aspiring pilot over 20 years to get a commercial pilot licence (CPL), that too after fighting a sustained legal battle. In the meantime, the Kansal resident studied law to become a lawyer as he did not have enough funds to bear the charges of a good lawyer. As he was caught in a legal tangle, his wife and daughter left home due to poverty. However, Lakhbir Singh continued to fight for realising his ambition, and finally, he was issued a commercial pilot licence last week.
Even as the June 1975-born is now a valid CPL holder, he is overage for applying for a fresh post of pilot with commercial airlines, which have fixed 35 as the upper age limit for applicants. Now, the only option left with the wannabe pilot is to become a flying instructor, but for that he requires a minimum flying time of 200 hours. However, he has not flown since September 1999 when his 25-hour flying time requirement for getting a CPL was fulfilled. To fulfil this 200-hour flying condition, Singh will have to shell out at least Rs 24 lakh as the present per hour flying charge is Rs 12,000.
“My entire career and life have been spoiled by the authorities at the office of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), who delayed my flying condition without any fault of mine and hence I had to fight a long legal battle,” said Singh, sharing his tale of woe with The Tribune here on Thursday.
On the contrary, Singh’s batchmates are now trained pilots with different airlines and are leading a lavish lifestyle with average monthly salaries of Rs 10 lakh each. It was on July 20, 1995, that Singh was selected for flying training for the CPL course at subsidised rates by the Adviser, Civil Aviation, Haryana, at the Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation in Pinjore. The duration of the course was three years.
As per the prospectus for the CPL, a candidate was required to undergo flying training for a total of 250 hours and was also required to pass six technical papers. The validity of the papers was two years from the date of passing.
As per the prospectus, the duration of the course was three years, following which the CPL holder was eligible to seek commercial employment in any airline.
The Haryana Government and the Centre were paying almost 70 per cent of the flying training cost of Haryana domicile candidates, including Singh.
Singh cleared the technical papers for the CPL well in time, but his flying training was not completed in time as per the prescribed schedule and policy because some other candidates had been given flying training at subsidised rates in place of Singh.
Since the sanctioned funds for Singh’s flying training were utilised on other candidates, his flying training was delayed and completed on September 13, 1999, but at that stage, the validity of two of his papers had lapsed by over 10 months.
On this ground, the DGCA refused to issue the CPL to Singh and cited the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s guidelines that extension of validity period for the lapsed papers could not be granted beyond six months.
This forced Singh to knock at the doors of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which decided the case in his favour in 2010, but the DGCA filed an appeal, which was also dismissed.
27/04/18 Tribune

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