Thursday, March 4, 2010

U.S.-India Safety Agreement Progressing Rapidly, FAA Says

Aviation Daily Mar 04 , 2010 , p. 17
Neelam Mathews

Progress on the U.S.-India Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA), has been exponential, Dorothy Reimold, FAA acting assistant administrator for international affairs, told The DAILY at the India Aviation Show in Hyderabad.

A shadow certification is under implementation for development with Goodrich of four-seat life rafts for use in general aviation aircraft in India. Development of the article is in progress, according to the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). This becomes a model for entities involved in bilateral arrangement, said Reimold.

Safety agreements are in place with Australia, China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

At discussions in Hyderabad, it was apparent there was a need to move ahead with BASA within a clear time frame. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is expected to visit India soon to hold high-level talks.

BASA would lead to mutual acceptance of aeronautical products and parts developed in either country.Since many U.S aeronautical products are now being designed and built in India, a need was felt for international acceptance of such products.

Steps involved in the BASA process include skill upgrades of certification experts through training in certification procedures

Another project under discussion includes the certification of India’s Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System GAGAN. The fact that GAGAN has happened shows knowledge development has taken place, Reimold said.

Last week, FAA, ISRO and DGCA are said to have discussed certification related to the system.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) awarded an $85 million contract to Raytheon last year to build seven ground stations for GAGAN. Raytheon expects the system to be fully functional by 2013. As a result of challenges associated with India’s location close to the equator, algorithms to be implemented are being worked on, said Robert Meyer, Raytheon’s business development manager for ATM.

All activities require resources and DGCA till recently has been short-staffed. DGCA, recently approved 100 positions, and that is welcome news, said Reimold, as the regulator reviews its organizational capability.

Recognizing the dangers of aviation growing too fast and safety being essential in the process, FAA is in talks with India on air traffic flow management.

Discussions were also held on next-generation technology, such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, in which there has been a huge interest.

As more countries become interested in the commercial operation of space transportation, FAA can provide information on how the U.S. plans to regulate commercial space transportation vehicles and spaceports. While this falls under U.S. government trade issues, there is recognition that commercial space is developing and that India needs a better understanding of what it will take to regulate the industry. Commercial space is a global industry and it is hard to be restrictive, admitted Reimold.

Reimold said she sees a bright future when asked how she views the India-U.S. partnership at the end of three years. We will be talking as normal partners for NG systems. The two partners will be teaching each other. There will be an exchange of efficiency data. We expect BASA will be cleared, which is a priority for the Indian and the U.S. government.

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