Resumption of talks with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for upgrading India’s air safety status to Category I and the formation of a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are among the key proposals that figure in the 100-day agenda of the civil aviation ministry.
The 100-day agenda was firmed up in a meeting held in the civil aviation ministry on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked every ministry to chart out a 100-day agenda incorporating pending decisions that needs to be expedited and reforms that need to be initiated. The FAA had downgraded India in January this year mainly on two grounds — that the regulator did not have full-time Flight Operation Inspectors (FOIs) and the employees in the DGCA were not trained properly. While training of employees has been completed, the recruitment of FOIs is still not over.
A senior DGCA official explained that they need to complete the procedure of hiring 58 FOIs before they could write a letter to the FAA asking them to initiate an audit.
“We have around 11 FOIs now, seven more are joining in a week’s time and approval for the recruitment for six more is pending with the government. Appointment for the rest will begin soon as we are releasing the advertisements in the paper,” said a senior DGCA official.
The DGCA will call the FAA only after they complete the hiring of full-time FOIs. “All the concerns raised in the audit have been fulfilled,” said the official. The FAA downgrade of India’s safety rankings has barred Air India and Jet Airways from increasing flights to the US from the current level. They are also not been able to enter into any new code-share relationships with any US airline. The downgrade, however, does not mean that these airlines are unsafe but shows that the DGCA’s safety oversight is not enough to properly monitor safety performance of Indian carriers.
The formation of the CAA, which has been included as part of the 100-day agenda, would help DGCA in reclaiming the category I status. The earlier government had tried to get the CAA Bill cleared by the Lok Sabha but could not achieve it.
The official added that work on creation of low-cost airports is also on civil aviation ministry’s 100-day list. However, nothing relating to Air India figures in the 100-day list of the civil aviation ministry.