Aviation regulator DGCA has grounded 11 pilots and six cabin crew of GMR's aviation company for safety violations, virtually rendering its fleet non-operational, but the infrastructure firm on Wednesday refuted the charges.
DGCA's unprecedented move came after its team found that several flights operated by GMR Aviation in the last month, including one on Monday when its aircraft flew Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to Bhubaneshwar, had skipped some mandatory tests, DGCA sources said.
DGCA grounded 11 of its pilots and six crew members for three months after finding "major lapses", while claiming that tests like pre-flight breath analysis of pilots and cabin crew were skipped and the breath analyser was non-functional.
The action virtually rendered the two-aircraft GMR fleet non-operational and led key politicians to look for alternatives to carry out their ongoing poll campaign.
After going through GMR Aviation's flying records between March 12 and April 14, DGCA officials said they had found evidence of "false" pre-flight medical checks.
In a statement, GMR Aviation strongly refuted the charges, saying no test has been skipped or data "falsified".
A company spokesperson said a written response would be shortly sent to the aviation regulator and hoped that the pilots and cabin crew would be reinstated soon.
While the breathalyser was working perfectly except its printer, "no breath analyser test has been skipped/falsified by crew/doctor," he said.
The spokesperson also maintained that the doctor in-charge had certified the pilots and cabin crew for all flights during the period "on the basis of digital readings exhibited by the machine." The printed test reports of the tests could not be generated due to a technical problem, he said.