US regulator downgrades India’s aviation safety rating

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New Delhi, Feb 1: US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today said it had downgraded India’s aviation safety rating to Category 2 as it does not comply with global standards set by UN agency ICAO, a move that would adversely affect Indian airlines’ flights to US.

However, the FAA said “the United States will continue to work with India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) to identify the remaining steps necessary to regain Category 1 status for India.” It also said India has made “significant progress towards addressing issues” identified during two safety audits it had carried out in September and December last year.

With a Category 2 rating, Indian carriers — Air India and Jet Airways “can continue existing service to the United States, but will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States”, the FAA said in a statement in Washington.

The American aviation regulator, part of the Department of Transportation, said it carried out “reassessment” of the DGCA, following which “India has been assigned a Category 2 rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.”

Observing that India had achieved a Category 1 rating, signifying compliance with ICAO standards, in August 1997, it said a December 2012 ICAO audit identified deficiencies in the ICAO-set global standards for oversight of aviation safety by the DGCA.

“Subsequently, the FAA began a reassessment of India’s compliance with ICAO standards under the FAA’s IASA program, which monitors adherence to international safety standards and practices.” FAA said it had consulted extensively with the DCGA and other relevant Indian government ministries during its evaluation, including consultations in September and early December and meetings this week in Delhi.

Responding to the decision, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “US and Indian aviation officials have developed an important working relationship as our countries work to meet the challenges of ensuring international aviation safety.”

“The FAA is available to work with the DGCA to help India regain its Category 1 rating,” Huerta said. ”India has made significant progress towards addressing issues identified during the September 2013 IASA assessment. On January 20, the Government of India took further steps to resolve outstanding issues when the Indian Cabinet approved the hiring of 75 additional full-time inspectors.

“The United States Government commends the Indian government for taking these important actions, and looks forward to continued progress by Indian authorities to comply with internationally mandated aviation safety oversight standards,” the FAA statement said. PTI