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Federal aviation body may submit final audit report on DGCA by January

December 13, 2013 18:53 IST

FAAUS aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration has completed its second round of safety audit of its Indian counterpart DGCA and is likely to submit its final report by January, official sources said on Friday.

On the basis of the report of its two-day compliance audit, FAA would decide whether to downgrade India's aviation safety status or maintain it on the top Category-I.

The report is likely to be finalised over the next 3-4 weeks, they said.

A three-member technical team of the FAA carried out the second round of audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to check whether corrective steps have been taken to resolve 33 deficiencies the US agency had highlighted during the first round in September.

Of these deficiencies, corrective measures were taken on 26 issues which were deemed as closed. Of the remaining seven, the status was of work-in-progress and would take some more time, the sources said.

Among the pending issues are hiring of flight inspectors without depending on the qualified staff of airlines and specialised training of airworthiness officers on charter and business jets.

These require amending the existing rules which would take some more time, they said.

In the earlier audit, FAA had expressed concern over the large number of vacancies in top technical posts, at a time when air traffic in India was growing at a rapid pace.

It had also adversely commented on the conduct of

the regular training programmes, including those for pilots, engineers and cabin crew, besides observing that there was lack of manuals and documentation on certain major safety issues.

After a real-time check at some airports, the FAA had then noted some faults in implementation of safety norms by a couple of airlines and non-scheduled operators flying charters or business jets.

A downgrade from DGCA's current top Category I to probably Category II would imply that Air India and Jet Airways, which now fly to the US, would be allowed to operate only the existing number of flights, but not enhance them.

They would also not be able to expand or enter into any further code share arrangements with any American carrier.

Safety supervision on air traffic and the activity of Indian airlines in the US would also be heigtened.

A downgrade would definitely not mean that Air India or Jet were unsafe as the audit does not say anything on any individual airline's safety practices, the sources said, adding it would mean that government's safety oversight may not be enough to properly monitor safety performance of airlines.

Before FAA's first round of audit, a similar exercise had been carried out by the UN-body International Civil Aviation Organisation, which had cleared the DGCA.

The FAA, which has over the years downgraded several nations including close ally Israel, Mexico, Venezuela and Philippines, uses the 'downgrade' as more of a tool to put pressure on countries to shape up their regulatory schemes and not as a warning of imminent safety problems, they said.

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