Sunday, March 14, 2010

FAA/India Pursue Aviation Product Certification Accord

Air Transport

Aviation Week & Space Technology Mar 15 , 2010 , p. 42
Neelam Mathews
Hyderabad, India

U.S. and India explore ways to exchange certification of aviation products
Printed headline: Safety Is the Subject

The FAA and India are expected to reach a bilateral safety agreement by mid-2011 that will allow both countries to accept each other’s certification of aviation products.

The pending agreement includes a technical assessment and a simultaneous evaluation of the country’s regulator, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). It is expected to lead to broader cooperation between the two nations.

HAL is discussing a single-pilot version with instrument flight rules capability of the advance light helicopter Dhruv that could be a candidate for joint certification.

The FAA is following procedures that it has used with partner agencies in other Asia-Pacific nations, including Australia, China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

“We will be talking [in three years] as normal partners for [next-generation] systems and teaching each other,” predicts the FAA’s acting assistant administrator-international, Dorothy Reimold. “There will be an exchange of efficiency data. We expect [the bilateral] will be cleared, which is a priority for the Indian and U.S. governments.”

The FAA’s review of India’s procedures is expected to be completed in time for an umbrella agreement to be signed in mid-2011 by the U.S. State Dept. and India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The ongoing prerequisite is an in-depth assessment of the technical competence and capabilities of DGCA, including its personnel, standards and policies, design, production, enforcement, certification management, environmental and airworthiness certification processes.

Reimold says the U.S. wants a clear schedule for developing the baseline safety agreement. India alleviated an earlier concern that DGCA lacked the resources to keep the review process on track by hiring 100 additional workers.

“This is welcome news,” she commented at the India Aviation Show here this month. The Indians are encouraged, as well. “Talks are progressing satisfactorily,” says Naseem Zaidi of the DGCA.

Reimold notes that FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has expressed interest in visiting India. “It seems like cooperation between India and the FAA will be even more important in the future,” says a senior FAA official.

Joint-certification projects under discussion will be with Honeywell and India’s largest defense contractor, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). But an Indian civil aviation ministry official cautions, “We need to take small steps at a time.”

On another front, the FAA has held discussions with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and DGCA about certifying India’s Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System (Gagan) for commercial flight operations.

ISRO awarded an $85-million contract to Raytheon last year to build seven ground stations for Gagan by 2013. One challenge is development of algorithms for a system operating so close to the Equator, says Raytheon’s Robert Meyer, business development manager for air traffic management.

A key element in the two countries’ discussions is how India’s regulations can keep pace with the rapid growth of its aviation community. With that in mind, the FAA is consulting with India on air traffic management flow and next-generation technology such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast.

The Indians also are interested in how the FAA expects to regulate commercial space transportation vehicles and spaceports. Although the subject is normally discussed as part of trade relations, Reimold says that commercial space will be hard to restrict as a global industry.

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