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Thursday, February 19, 2015
India Expects FAA To Upgrade Its Air Safety Rating
by Neelam Mathews - February 17, 2015, 2:54 PM
The Indian government is hopeful that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will soon upgrade the country’s rating under the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program from Category 2 to Category 1. The rating was downgraded in January 2014 on the basis of deficiencies in the capability of the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to regulate safety standards in the country’s air transport industry.
An FAA inspection team is due to visit India during the first week of March to assess the degree to which theDGCA has improved its safety oversight. “We are confident that the downgrade will be revoked and that a decision will be made by around April or May,” Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation joint secretary G. Asok Kumar toldAIN at a conference held in Bangalore on the eve of this week’s AeroIndia show.
According to a DGCA official, speaking to AIN on condition of anonymity, the agency delayed a planned meeting with the FAA that had been scheduled for the first week of February. Among the measures called for by FAA is the hiring of 75 additional flight observation inspectors. So far, the DGCA has recruited approximately 45, but the agency believes this will be considered sufficient progress to merit an upgrade in its IASA rating. The official indicated that the growth of India’s air transport sector has slowed down since FAA made its initial assessment and that therefore not quite so many inspectors are required.
FAA downgraded India to IASA Category 2 on the basis that the DGCA did not meet the highest standards required by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The most immediate consequence was that while Indian airlines could continue existing services into the U.S., they could not introduce new services until the Category 1 ranking is reinstated.
Separately, Kumar told the conference that within a month the Indian government is set to introduce a new aviation policy document. Much of the new policy is focused on new regulations governing business aircraft operations, but it will also include a significant reclassification for operators that have been providing so-called “non-scheduled” services to smaller regional cities. These operators are now to be categorized as “scheduled commuter operators” and for the first time will be permitted to publish and advertise flight schedules for routes on which they provide at least four flights per week. If confirmed, the move could boost the development of low-density regional airline service in India