Aviation Daily Jul 12 , 2010 , p. 21
An FAA representative visiting India July 8 confirmed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that India continues to retain Category 1 status in FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment Program (IASA), which focuses on the country’s ability to adhere to standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
John Barbagallo, manager of FAA’s international policy and programs division, flight standards, performed a follow-on safety audit to validate an assessment FAA did six months ago and ensure it was sustainable.
The FAA concluded that India not only continues to meet FAA’s IASA Cat 1 status, but is also considered to be a role model in the civil aviation sector for other nations in the Asia region, according to a statement.
India has fixed all 19 problem areas identified in the past, including manuals, inspection of wet-lease aircraft and checks of foreign carriers, and they are now cleared under IASA. Last year, FAA expressed concern about inadequate technical guidance for DGCA inspectors, hiring and retaining technical personnel in DGCA, establishment of an ongoing surveillance program of air operators and the resolution of identified safety issues.
Before permitting a foreign airline to operate to the U.S., FAA conducts an audit of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)/DGCA to ensure it is capable of providing safety certification and continuing oversight of its international carriers. The audit is conducted under IASA. Israel has been frozen on IASA's Cat 2 list for the past six months. Under Cat 2, no expansion or changes to the services of Israeli air carriers are permitted by the U.S., and the existing operations are subjected to “heightened FAA surveillance.”
“IASA is the best thing that happened to India or the system would have collapsed. Two years ago, the DGCA was demoralized…IASA cleaned up the system. In India, where it is individuals and not institutions that make the difference, the credit goes to Director General Nasim Zaidi, who spruced the division up by verifying surveillances, [and] retraining and refreshing the entire system,” an airline official says.
The DGCA says it hired 48 technical officers on short-term contracts and will complete the recruitment process for 178 positions by September. FAA also learned that DGCA’s ranks increased from 144 technical officers in March 2009 to 254 in June, and will grow to 432 by September.
The number of flight operations inspectors in the DGCA’s Flight Standards Directorate has increased to 32, up from four in March 2009, which FAA found satisfactory. FAA also was told that India has set up a Board for Aviation Safety to monitor and resolve safety-related findings.