Regulator plans separate agency to probe air accidents

March 16th, 2009 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has assured its US counterpart that India will soon have a separate agency for investigating air accidents, a government official said Monday.
“We are streamlining the working of our agency and would have a separate agency to handle air accident investigations. We are also in the process of installing sophisticated gadgets for air operations at all major airports,” the civil aviation ministry official told IANS.

This has been conveyed to the officials of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who are now here to check the state of air safety in India.

The US officials would also check whether India is following the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN body.

The ICAO had earlier recommended that the jobs of framing regulations and carrying out investigations should be bifurcated.

At present, the DGCA, the sole regulator of aviation activities in the country, is also required to probe air accidents.

As an interim measure, it uses the manpower of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to carry out safety oversight functions.

The FAA, which grades countries as per the level of preparedness to tackle air safety issues, had earlier threatened to downgrade India’s aviation industry from category one to category two.

The US regulator had also sought details from the DGCA on how efficiently India’s aviation sector is performing, especially on safety mechanisms, air surveillance and passenger facilities.

If downgraded, the aviation sector’s plans to expand into the US would suffer a major blow, said an airline official.

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