Though the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism claims the draft law has been formulated in accordance with the guidelines of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), pilots and aviation experts decry the ministry’s claim, stating that the government has misrepresented the guidelines and that the draft law does not reflect ICAO rules.
Reactions of pilots range from panicked to enraged. A Biman Bangladesh Airlines pilot said: “As a pilot, I am scared, angry and sad about the approval of the draft law which proposes a death penalty punishment.”
“This sort of punishment for obstructing aircraft operation is rare. These types of laws are not prevalent in any country of the world,” he added.
Requesting anonymity, a pilot of a private airlines said other countries also consider accidents caused by negligence or reckless flight operation after the departure of a flight to be an offence. Yet no country in the world has a law whereby a pilot may face death penalty for such violations.
An aviation expert said the new draft law was disappointing for the industry and would certainly hamper the growth of aviation in the country.
Choosing anonymity, a senior Biman Bangladesh Airlines pilot said for the sake of the pilots, the government should immediately revise the draft law before it gains approval in parliament, especially since even road accident laws only require a maximum of three years imprisonment for reckless drivers.
He added that the pilots, who are the main stakeholders in this decision, had not been consulted before the law was drafted. Now that the draft law has been approved, parents will no longer encourage their sons or daughters to choose aviation as a career.
Several pilots, especially young, newly recruited ones, are fearful that if the law passes at parliament, they will have to find alternative jobs.
“The new draft law will definitely affect us. Now, we are fearful of even doing our day to day work. Perhaps it would be better if we leave our jobs or find alternative jobs,” said an engineer of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, requesting anonymity.
A senior pilot of airlines said if the government did not revise the law, the pilots would have to express their anger and fear in a more formal manner.