FAA downgrade: US to fund India's efforts to boost air safety standards

Jun 02 2014, 09:39 IST
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FAA downgrade this January meant that Air India and Jet Airways cannot add any new flights to the US. FAA downgrade this January meant that Air India and Jet Airways cannot add any new flights to the US.
SummaryDGCA ropes in Washington-based Wicks Group for a year to monitor India’s preparedness.

The US government will fund India’s efforts to upgrade its air safety standards, five months after the country saw its safety rating downgraded to category 2 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

India has decided to opt for a bilateral assistance programme from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), under which private sector consultant, The Wicks Group PLLC (TWG), is being hired to monitor the country’s air safety preparedness.

Two officials in the ministry of civil aviation told FE that the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will start work with Washington-based TWG for a one-year contract starting Monday.

The project has received approval from the finance ministry’s department of economic affairs and the external affairs ministry.

“TWG has been engaged to help sustain the country’s air safety system under funding from the USTDA. The idea is that such problems like the downgrade cannot re-occur since they have a major impact on investment sentiments. The consultant was recommended by the FAA itself, so we went with them since the FAA needs to be satisfied that all its requirements are being met and they do not rake up problems later,” the first ministry official said.

TWG will initially help the DGCA prepare for a fresh safety audit by the FAA in the next few months after which India hopes to regain the Category 1 status.

In the second stage, TWG will review and upgrade the regulator’s processes and oversight mechanism as per the FAA and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. Added a second aviation ministry official,

“The contract will also include other work apart from helping us prepare for the fresh safety audit. TWG will look at our systems, help in standardisation with global norms and upgrade the training systems for DGCA’s own inspection and certifying officers”.TWG, which employs ex-FAA officials, has previously helped several other countries like Azerbaijan, Cape Verde, Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine to upgrade their air safety rankings.

“The Wicks Group assists foreign civil aviation authorities with preparing for and responding to FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program audits and reviews, directed at a country achieving or maintaining an IASA Category 1 rating,” the TWG website said. In April, TWG became a member of the US-India Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP) and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC).

“Involvement in the two organizations

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