The US has said that it was committed to work with India to help it get back the Category 1 aviation safety rating "as soon as possible", a day after Washington downgraded India's ranking, bringing it below Pakistan and at par with countries like Ghana and Bangladesh.
"Both the US and India are fully committed to restoring India to a Category 1 rating as soon as possible," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters here.
"There is currently a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA team in India, in part to discuss how to go about doing just that," she said.
"When a foreign country's civil aviation authority has international flights into the US, the FAA is required to periodically evaluate whether that CAA is overseeing the safety of its international civil aviation operations according to the ICAO standards," she said.
Earlier, the FAA announced that India is not in compliance with international safety standards set by the UN agency International Civilian Aviation Organisation (ICAO). "The FAA therefore downgraded India from a Category 1 to a Category 2 rating," Harf said.
The downgrading of safety ranking means India's aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) does not meet the safety standards set by ICAO.
Air passengers to and from the US may have to face the brunt as Indian airplanes would have to go through more engineering and other safety checks on the American soil. Responding to questions, Harf said this is a process with consultations and discussions that began many months ago and it has nothing to do with the recent diplomat row.
She said that the assessment was conducted in New Delhi in September. The assessment team returned to India on December 11 for follow-up discussion.
"Our understanding is that while India has indeed made significant progress, a determination was made that it was not enough to meet the ICAO standards, hence the step that we saw today. But again, we're committed to working with India to get them to take the necessary steps to get back to a Category 1 rating," she insisted.
Harf refuted allegations that this has anything to do with the recent Devyani Khobragade row. "This absolutely had nothing to do with the ongoing case of Khobragade. Again, this was a regulatory decision. I don't know how much leeway we have in those, but it's my understanding that this was all made inside a regulatory framework that has very specific criteria countries have to meet under ICAO standards that we’re all party to," she said.