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US Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces Improved Aviation Safety Rating for India

New Delhi. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that India complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme. The announcement was made April 8 during a meeting between Secretary Foxx and India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

“US and Indian aviation officials have an important, cooperative working relationship,” said Secretary Foxx. “The United States Government commends the Government of India for taking corrective action to address the safety oversight issues identified during the IASA process.”

A Category 1 rating means that the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards and permits India’s air carriers to add flights to the United States using their own aircraft and carry the code of US carriers on their operations.

This Category 1 rating follows a December 8-12, 2014 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review, under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme, of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India, subsequent meetings, and an FAA visit to India on March 30-31. On January 14, 2014, the FAA assigned India a Category 2 IASA rating, which signified that India’s civil aviation safety oversight regime did not currently comply with ICAO standards. Under Category 2, the United States continued to work with India’s DGCA while India’s air carriers continued existing service to the United States. However, they were not allowed to establish new services to the United States using their own aircraft.

“Our countries will continue to work together to meet the challenges of ensuring safety in international civil aviation,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

India first achieved a Category 1 rating in August 1997. A December 2012 FAA audit identified some deficiencies in the DGCA from ICAO-set global standards for oversight of aviation safety which led to a Category 2 designation. Subsequently, the FAA began a reassessment of India’s compliance with ICAO standards under the FAA’s IASA programme.

Commented Amber Dubey, India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG: “It is a welcome development. Full marks to DGCA, MoCA and the industry stakeholders involved from both India and the US. Given the huge growth expected in Indian aviation and the safety challenges thereof, we can’t afford to be complacent. DGCA needs continuous improvement in its systems, processes, manpower, training and transparency. Its financial and operational independence has to be enhanced. It has to improve its transparency and ease of doing business with industry. The industry hopes that the Category 1 upgrade should lead to further reforms.

Notably, FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate, or seek to operate, into the United States, or codeshare with a US air carrier, and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety oversight standards, not FAA regulations.

In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety oversight standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for international civil aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for government oversight, airports, aircraft operations and maintenance.

A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with the minimum international civil aviation standards, or that its civil aviation authority – the equivalent to the FAA for civil aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas of safety oversight, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures and enforcement.

© India Strategic