India’s wait for US upgradation continues

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India’s wait for an upgradation in the US safety ranking is likely to continue at least until March next year when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will announce its decision on the recent audit.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma has recently said the FAA, which is the American aviation regulator, conducted a fresh safety audit of DGCA from December 8 and is likely to determine India’s safety rating in March 2015.

Though India is expecting a positive decision by March, the FAA is not ready to give a commitment.

“The FAA administration began a reassessment of India’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) this month, which may take several months. The FAA is continuing to work with India’s CAA and does not have an announcement about India’s status at this time,” FAA spokesperson Alison Duquette told Deccan Herald through email.

Sharma informed Rajya Sabha that the FAA team carried out a “full audit” to ascertain India’s compliance of international aviation safety standards by focussing on “eight critical elements”.

During its audit, the US agency covered activities, including those relating to legislation, regulations, technical personnel, training, licencing, certification and surveillance obligations, which are critical for aviation safety oversight functions.

The Civil Aviation Ministry expects that the FAA would provide a written report within about 65 days and hold a consultation meeting in another 30 days.

“Based on the outcome of final decision, FAA will make a Category determination and inform India by about March 2015,” Sharma said.

The downgrade had come in January as India could not come out satisfactory on two counts – insufficient number of flight operations inspectors and airworthiness officers do not have required training to handle all types of aircraft. India now says that it has recruited more Safety Inspectors and imparted proper training and expects a positive outcome of the inspection by January.

There is no timeframe and the condition is that the country in question satisfies the FAA on its concerns. India should know the experience of other countries, which faced downgrade. Philippines is waiting for about six to re-enter Category 1 while the wait of Indonesia is around seven years. Israel took four years to reverse the downgrade and re-enter Category 1.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 19, 2014)

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