India Air Safety Downgraded by FAA

Friday, 7th February 2014 at 03:49am

India's air safety records remain a serious issue, according to United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who has downgraded the country along with other 13 nations to the cellar.

As a result, India is grouped together with Bangaldesh, Ghana, Curacao, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Serbia, Saint Marteen, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Indian stakeholders and policymakers, of course, couldn't be more disappointed with the recent designation of the country in the bottom 13. India's Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh was surprised and felt very disappointed with the ranking his country gets.

Some industry analysts though doubt if Prabhat Kumar, the newly-appointed Director-General of Civil Aviation, could attract reputable safety inspectors and examiners to do a thorough job for the country's airports in response to India's very poor ranking in FAA's latest findings on the world's major airlines and aviation facilities.

The agency seemed to have a hard time to lure reputable inspectors to work for them as they often get poorly compensated. Another thing that makes the job less attractive to inspectors and examiners is the tenure. They want a full-time job and they want to get well-compensated for their work. Admittedly, their work is not an easy task as it involves ensuring the safety of air travelers.

Rohit Nandan, Air India chairman, however seemed unperturbed by the inclusion of his airline in the rogue list by FAA. He has nothing to worry about as he has no plan of adding more flights to the US' He also downplayed the poor ranking saying it won't hurt Air India's induction to Star Alliance anyway, which is expected to happen within this year.

Air India was already in the process of getting admitted to the world's first and largest global airline alliance but, in the sudden turn of fate, was aborted due to many unmet requirements. One of these was the financial crisis that rocked the airline during the evaluation period prompting the panel to suspend its application until it is able to pull itself from the doldrums.

Three years later, the airline alliance has invited Air India to reapply for full membership.

The downgrade status means no airlines from India, private or state-owned, can fly to the United States while Indian-based airlines who have existing operations in the country (Unites States) are not allowed to expand.

Analyst Kapil Kaul of Centre for Aviation (CAPA) insinuated though that the highest position in the Aviation Ministry should be blamed for the downgrade of the country's air safety ranking, without naming a particular person. Ajit Singh currently heads the office since his appointment in December 2011.

Europeans and Japanese counterparts also have the same perception of India's air safety reputation prompting their aviation authorities to limit the service of existing India-based airlines and ban any new airlines from the subcontinent to fly to their countries.

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