US aviation regulator refuses to postpone India visit

January 22nd, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) India’s fear of getting downgraded by the US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), looms large as the latter has refused to postpone its India tour beginning Feb 22, according to a government official.”They (FAA team) will reach India according to the schedule worked out earlier. We had asked for more time to get things into place but that hasn’t worked,” the civil aviation ministry official said Thursday.

Sources said nothing could stop the FAA now from downgrading India’s aviation industry rating from category one to category two. This is due to the pathetic state of affairs at Indian airports and for having failed to fulfil the FAA guidelines and norms.

The Indian government fears that the downgrading by the FAA will influence the aviation sector’s future plans for expansion to the US and would affect the country’s air operators too.

The FAA grades countries as per the level of preparedness to tackle air safety issues.

What is now worrying India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is that it does not have anything impressive to present before the FAA.

When contacted, Andrew Harrison, the chief operating officer (COO) of Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) that runs the Delhi airport said it was too early to comment on how India’s aviation interests would be hurt if the FAA downgraded the country.

“We can make a point only when the FAA decides anything such. It would be too early to speculate,” he told IANS.

India’s flagship carrier Air India too is worried about the FAA move.

“We have aviation agreements with the US. But if our aviation industry is downgraded, that would lead to more scrutiny of our aircraft by US agencies. This will also affect our expansion plans abroad,” said a senior Air India official.

The FAA has sought details from the DGCA on how efficiently is India’s aviation sector performing, especially on safety mechanisms, air surveillance and passenger facilities. The regulator also wants to know how its guidelines are being followed in India.

The FAA has also asked the DGCA to produce details about defaulting airlines.

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