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DGCA cancels authorisation to Jet’s engineering department

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has cancelled critical authorisations to Jet Airways’ engineering department, rendering the grounded airline defunct and unable to carry out any maintenance work on aircraft, said three people aware of the matter.

The action taken by DGCA will impact the airline’s most critical assets, its planes, which are in constant need of maintenance and preservation even as they are grounded. Experts said the development left very little value for Jet Airways’ flying permit.

The bankrupt airline now has 14 planes left in its fleet, primarily comprising the wide-bodied Boeing 777 planes that it owns. Most of its other planes were leased and have been deregistered by lessors as Jet Airways defaulted on monthly rentals. The airline still has around 500 engineers on its rolls.

The DGCA’s action also bars the airline from doing any third-party aircraft maintenance work for other airlines.  “Jet wasn’t meeting the minimum criteria for its engineering department to do any maintenance work on planes, which is why the action has been taken,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.

The regulator has cancelled authorisations under the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) M, 145 and 147, the official said.

CAR M “specifies certain technical requirements to be complied by organisations and personnel involved in the maintenance of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances in order to demonstrate the capability and means of discharging the obligations and associated privileges thereof”, according to the DGCA website. “It also specifies conditions of issuing, maintaining, amending, suspending or revoking certificates attesting such compliance.”

CAR 145 “establishes the requirements to be met by an organisation to qualify for the issue or continuation of an approval for the maintenance of aircraft and components” and is required for an airline to do third party maintenance work. CAR 147 covers the training of personnel to carry out plane maintenance functions.

The DGCA’s move happened after the airline’s quality manager Biju Fernandes and continuing airworthiness manager D. Shyamsundar quit on May 31. Vinay Dube, Jet Airways’ CEO as well as its accountable manager quit earlier, on May 14. The three positions – accountable manager, quality manager and continuing airworthiness manager – form the primary criterion under the three CARs.

Jet Airways stopped operations on April 17, after it ran out of cash to stay afloat and failed to raise funds. Its lenders, led by the State Bank of India, have been scrambling to find it an investor. Talks are currently on with the Hinduja Group and Etihad Airways, which owns 24% stake in the airline, for fresh investment to revive the airline.

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