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Snags ground DGCA’s first test for pilots under its new online system

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NEW DELHI: The first exam for pilot licensing under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) new online portal had to be cancelled soon after wannabe aviators started attempting the papers across India on Thursday due to a number of technical glitches. o their horror, sources say, the wannabe commercial pilots and captains found issues like multiple choices for answers being marked as a, a, b, b instead of a, b, c and d; some questions having just two options instead of the required four and then there were server issues too.

With these problems plaguing the first exam being conducted under DGCA’s new combined portal for pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers,, the same had to be cancelled. A senior DGCA official said: “This was the first exam under the new system. These are initial, teething problems and we will fix all the snags.” The new online portal has been developed for the aviation regulator by the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIEIT).

DGCA conducts exams for issuing commercial pilot license (CPL) so that the budding aviators are eligible for joining airlines as trainee co-pilots; for co-pilots to be promoted as commanders after clearing the “airline transport pilot license” (ATPL); aircraft maintenance engineers (AME); foreign air crew authorisation (FATA or issuing licences to operate in India o pilots with foreign licences) and flight dispatchers.

On Thursday, candidates appearing for CPL and ATPL test were to write exams on subjects like air navigation and flight planning, radio aids and instruments and metrology. “Apart from problems in multiple choice questions, servers were also down for a while. This has been a recurring problem with the DGCA exams even earlier too under the older system. This leads to arguments between the examiners who asks for candidates to wind up as the allowed time is up and the latter saying that the server was down for so many minutes and that the time should not be counted. Since it is an online exam, there is no way that one can attempt the paper when the server is down,” said sources.

Another person in the know said: “This session in December was actually the ‘October’ session. Far from monthly or on demand exams, they have not managed to hold them four times a year as before. In Thursday test, the questions were incomplete with half the required data missing.”

DGCA chief B S Bhullar said all the snags will be fixed.

Like all exams, pilot tests also have a mix of theory and viva. “Viva has not been conducted for the pilot tests for some months now duet which people are awaiting their licences,” says sources. They add that DGCA actual processing time for documents is much longer than the prescribed one.

“NIEIT will provide complete exam management including software and infra for the exams. A portal has been developed that will provide an integrated website for conducting all exams like pilot (general and technical), flight dispatcher, FATA and AME.

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