MUMBAI: A day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) put in stringent measures to prevent photography on board airline passenger flights, the regulator issued a clarification to the rule stating that passengers could indulge in still and video photography onboard flights, but not with the use of any “recording equipment which imperils or compromises air safety, violates prevalent norms, creates chaos or disruption during operation of flight”.
The order, passed on Sunday, by Sunil Kumar, deputy director general, DGCA appears to have been issued as a clarification to the order passed by the regulator on Saturday, September 12. The earlier order said that if any passenger took a photograph onboard a commercial passenger aircraft, the flight concerned shall be suspended for two weeks till the time that the airline hasn’t taken action against those responsible for the violation.
Director General of Civil Aviation, Arun Kumar on Saturday said that action includes that taken against the airline crew member concerned, which could be termination or other punitive action. The passenger concerned too will face action under the norms for unruly passenger behaviour, he said. The airline would file an FIR against the passenger and then form an internal committee which will decide in 30 days whether to issue a ban against the passenger concerned or not.
Kumar though had clarified that the earlier order was issued to stop such practices- like the incident last week when electronic media journalists aboard a flight taken by actor Kangana Ranaut from Chandigarh to Mumbai created chaos on board after the aircraft landed in Mumbai.
The regulator passed the earlier stringent order, a day after a video footage which showed electronic media journalists with cameras crowding around Ranaut did rounds on social media.
The earlier DGCA order issued on September 12 said: “As per Rule 13 of Aircraft rules 1937, no person shall take, or cause or permit to be taken, at a government aerodrome or from an aircraft in flight, any photograph….’’ The only time when a photograph is permitted on board a flight is when it is “in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions of a permission in writing granted by the director-general, a Joint Director General, a Deputy Director General or the Director of Regulations and Information of the Civil Aviation Department. This permission is, however, not applicable when such aircraft is landing, taking off or on ground at a defence aerodrome,” the order said.
It added that inspite of a ban on photography it has been noted that at times, airlines have failed to follow these stipulations primarily because of the lack of diligence on their part. Such deviations result in compromise in maintaining the highest standards of safety and therefore, is not to be allowed, the order said. “It has been decided that from now on, in case any such violation occurs on any scheduled passenger aircraft, the schedule of flight for that particular route shall be suspended for a period of two weeks from the next day, that is, the day following and shall be restored only after the airline has taken all the necessary punitive action against those responsible for the violation,’’ the order said.
However, a day later, the DGCA clarified that the ban wasn’t against taking photographs or shooting videos. Said a DGCA official: “The order was passed to prevent a repeat of last week’s incident involving electronic media.”
The Ranaut/electronic media incident took place on Wednesday on board flight 6E-264 which departed Chandigarh at 12.30pm and arrived in Mumbai at 2.30pm.
The footage, shot (by a passenger) when the aircraft had parked at Mumbai airport, showed journalists with video cameras jostling and crowding along the aisle, near the front of the aircraft, to get access to Ranaut in the first row. A few journalists were seen with their face masks removed, while others packed in tightly along the aisle trying to reach the actor. In the video, an in-flight announcement can be heard: “Please do not harass any passenger, you all will be subject to security by CISF staff on landing… please remain seated.”