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DGCA may meet Federal Aviation Administration next month for fresh audit

The rating downgrade, India's first, put it in the same category as Zimbabwe and Indonesia, and barred Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US.

ET Bureau|
Jul 25, 2014, 04.00 AM IST
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The rating downgrade, India's first, put it in the same category as Zimbabwe and Indonesia, and barred Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US.
The rating downgrade, India's first, put it in the same category as Zimbabwe and Indonesia, and barred Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US.
By Mihir Mishra

NEW DELHI: The aviation regulator has sought a meeting with the US Federal Aviation Administration next month to apprise it of the safety checks being followed in the country, and seek another audit of India's aviation safety oversight system.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assesses the air safety preparedness of different countries regularly.

In January, it had downgraded India's safety rating to category II status after it found that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) didn't have enough flight operations inspectors (FOIs).

"The DGCA has written to the FAA seeking a meeting to discuss the work done at our level after the downgrade and seek time for the next audit by them," a DGCA official said. "This is the procedure FAA follows. You have to meet them to update on the work done and invite them for another audit."

The rating downgrade, India's first, put it in the same category as Zimbabwe and Indonesia, and barred Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US. It also impacted code-share arrangements with some American airlines.

According to the DGCA official, consultants had advised the regulator to seek a meeting once it had 20 full-time FOIs. The DGCA already has 20 FOIs and plans to hire 15-20 more by end-August, when the meeting has been sought.

Meanwhile, the DGCA has commenced the second round of interviews to hire more pilots. The regulator interviewed pilots for posts of senior FOIs and FOIs on Tuesday, and has more interviews scheduled for Friday. On July 28, the DGCA is set to interview pilots for the post of chief FOI and deputy FOI.

Absence of full-time FOIs and lack of training of the aviation regulator's employees were the key reasons for the air safety rating downgrade.

Earlier, the DGCA did not have any regular FOIs. Pilots and commanders were seconded from scheduled airlines to carry out these functions. These commanders and pilots were paid by the respective airlines and not by the DGCA. The practice raised the possibility of conflict of interest, a factor pointed out by the FAA.

The DGCA had not been able to hire fulltime FOIs due to its inability to pay them market-linked salaries.

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