Mumbai: India may be downgraded to Category 2 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failure to adhere to safety standards as laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), according to unconfirmed reports in the media. Any such downgrade would result in Indian carriers being subjected to stringent security checks at foreign airports.
India currently occupies the higher Category 1 slot.
According to reports, the Indian regulatory agency, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is apparently in negotiations with the FAA for a six month time extension, which would allow it meet ICAO norms. An FAA inspection team was in New Delhi last week as part of its international aviation safety assessment programme.
If downgraded by the FAA, Indian carriers with operations to the USA will not be able to change, or expand, their schedules. Carriers seeking to commence US operations would also be unable to do so.
In case of violations penalties are likely to be heavy, including impounding aircraft and levying heavy fines.
Industry experts have expressed no surprise at these reports saying that the DGCA has been non-functional as a regulator and safety and regulatory issues have been allowed to slide over a period of four years. They also point out that there has been a notable lack of safety audits.