New Delhi, April 8:
The government on Wednesday said India’s civil aviation regulator’s safety ranking has been restored by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), more than a year after it was downgraded on oversight concerns.
According to the civil aviation ministry, visiting US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx informed Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju that the FAA has upgraded the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to category-I status.
“He (Foxx) was leading a high-level US delegation for a meeting with the civil aviation minister and key officers of the ministry here today (Wednesday),” the ministry said in a statement.
“This meeting succeeded the series of meetings held by US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the statement said.
According to the statement, a presentation on the growth of civil aviation sector in India was made to the visiting US delegation to identify areas in which partnership, technical cooperation and the “Make in India” initiative can be developed.
On Jan 31, 2014, the FAA downgraded the safety ranking of India’s DGCA.
The downgrade impacted the operations of Indian passenger carriers like Air India and Jet Airways which fly directly to the US. The Indian passenger carrier’s had to undergo additional safety checks and stringent scrutiny before entering US airspace.
The Indian passenger carriers were also not able to add more flights to the US or enter into any code share agreement with US-based carriers.
The downgrade also meant that the Indian aviation regulator did not meet international safety standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in areas such as adequate manpower for inspections and safety checks of aircraft.
Before the downgrade, the FAA in its audit of the DGCA in September 2013 had pointed out 31 inadequacies.
The government and DGCA had worked on fulfilling these inadequacies like stringent checks on general aviation and manpower induction into the aviation regulator.
The FAA also conducted another review of the DGCA earlier this year.
Industry experts welcomed the restoration of the DGCA’s safety ranking.
“It is a welcome development. Given the huge growth expected in Indian aviation and the safety challenges thereof, we can’t afford to be complacent,” said Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG.
“DGCA needs continuous improvement in its systems, processes, manpower, training and transparency. Its financial and operational independence has to be enhanced. It has to improve its transparency and ease of doing business with industry.”
Rajiv Chib, associate director – aerospace and defence told IANS: “An avoidable dampener to business sentiment has been removed. It wasn’t encouraging to be clubbed with Ghana or Bangladesh as far as aviation security is concerned.”
“The DGCA has been working hard in the last six months and it is encouraging to see the organisation clear this hurdle.” IANS