India’s embarrassing downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been revoked, said an official. This comes in the backdrop of a three-member team visiting Brussels in the first week of November for a meeting with officials of the EU Air Safety Committee to discuss measures taken by the Indian aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to improve its performance after the FAA downgrade.
Finding regulatory oversight to be inadequate, the FAA had downgraded India from Category 1 to Category 2 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme on January 31 earlier this year. The move has barred Air India and Jet Airways — the only two Indian airlines that operate to the US — from expanding their operations in the US and impacted codeshare arrangements with their American counterparts.
The DGCA needed to recruit 20 officials – chief flight operations inspectors (CFOI) — to deal with the staff shortage pertaining to Air India and Jet Airways. To improve its overall safety record, however, it needed to recruit 75 CFOIs. While operations by Indian air carriers to and from EU are closely monitored through their Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft programme (SAFA), the FAA’s downgrade essentially meant that the DGCA was below par in meeting standards in technical expertise, trained manpower and maintenance records of air safety. It did not have skilled technical staff in the organisation.