A team of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is scheduled to meet the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in Delhi on Monday. The team will check if India is following the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
According to Naseem Zaidi,Director General of Civil Aviation,The FAA team is likely to visit us for consultations. He said the meeting was earlier scheduled for February 22 but was mutually deferred to March 16.
The FAA conducts the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Program and assesses aviation safety procedures in countries that have carriers operating to the United States. Passing the assessment gives the country a Category-I status,meaning services to the United States will continue in a normal manner. If the civil aviation authority fails to meet the ICAO standards,the country is rated Category-II. While corrective actions are under way ,the air carrier serving the US in Indias case Air India and Jet Airways is subjected to additional inspections at US airports. India enjoys a Category-I status at present.
ICAO had found several violations during an audit of 300 guidelines conducted in India in 2006. Shortage of manpower was the biggest problem then,according to the audit report, said a senior DGCA official,pleading anonymity and adding that the manpower had not increased since. He said the authority was currently facing a shortfall of 700 adequately qualified staff,one of the pre-requisites to be assessed by the FAA team.
The FAA had reportedly warned the DGCA six months ago against the shortage.
Against a global average of four,sources said,India scored two out of ten for technical personnel qualification and training in the 2006 audit. The country also lagged behind in safety oversight functions,scoring four out of ten the global average was six.
In the wake of manpower shortage and the FAA visit,the DGCA is preparing a roadmap to separate the tasks of safety inspection and accident investigation from its regulatory functions,official sources said on Sunday. The DGCA has mooted the proposal of an independent agency that should also be vested with the responsibility of accident investigations.