How would you feel if you were sitting in an airplane, moments from takeoff when you discover that the plane’s pilot has a fraudulent pilot’s license? According to police in New Delhi, India, four more people (four others have already been arrested) including an official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have been arrested for their alleged part in a “fake flying license” scam that could have been prevented by a license verification.

Pradeep Kumar served as assistant director for the DGCA and was in charge of licensing until January 2011. Mr. Kumar allegedly received 25,000 rupees per each file he cleared. This is the first time that an official at an aviation regulatory authority has been arrested in such a scam. Even though Mr. Kumar was never employed by an airline, New Dehli police say “he was more dangerous, being the mastermind of the racket.”

The DGCA has since grounded 14 pilots who received their commercial pilot’s license by submitting fake records and documents. Records show that the 14 pilot’s had not flown the mandatory hours required for licensing and are alleged to have received fake certificates from Rajasthan flying training institute.

If a simple license verification was conducted as part of a background check, these unscrupulous characters would have not flown under the radar (no pun intended). On a daily basis we educate our clients on various searches they should consider utilizing. These recommendations are not to line our pockets; they are specific to sensitive position(s) and the requirements of each particular industry, like an airplane pilot and the aviation industry. The DGCA needs to adopt a background screening policy intended for any one that is going to be responsible for the certification and licensing of commercial pilots.

In response to this scandal, DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan has issued a review of 10,000 Commercial Pilot Licenses (CPL) and 4,000 Airline Transport Pilot Licenses (ATPL).