‘India could face downgrading of aviation security system’

India could face the possibility of downgrading of its aviation safety system by the US.

New Delhi: India could face the possibility of downgrading of its aviation safety system by the US if it did not take urgent steps to strengthen institutions like DGCA to meet the challenges of a fast-growing air traffic, an aviation consultancy group has said.

In 2009, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), concerned by what it considered to be gross under-staffing of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had threatened to downgrade India to Category-II status.

However, swift steps on recruitment and promises for more time-bound measures led India to pass the FAA audit and retain its Category-I status that is on a par with developed nations.

"In the last two years alone domestic traffic has grown by 36 per cent and international by 19 per cent. However, there has been virtually no increase in resources at the DGCA so under-staffing is once again a major concern. FAA could once again threaten to downgrade India to Category-II," the Sydney-based aviation consultancy, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), said in a study.
It pointed out that since 2009, there have been a number of changes in key positions in the Civil Aviation Ministry, including the DGCA, and "the momentum was lost".

The study came soon after E K Bharat Bhushan was removed abruptly as the aviation regulator and replaced by a Joint Secretary in the Ministry, Prashant Sukul.

CAPA also observed "it is disappointing to note that the focus on safety which emerged in the aftermath of the Mangalore accident in May 2010 has evaporated."

Terming the safety report card "dismal", it said the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council, set up to suggest steps to boost aviation safety, did not meet for a year, while incident and operational data analysis was "poor".