US authorities have reinstated India’s Category 1 aviation safety rating after its embarrassing downgrade last year. In January 2014, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rated India as Category 2, meaning it joined a list of 11 countries – including Indonesia and Bangladesh – that have a less than perfect safety record.
In December 2013, the FAA highlighted 12 concerns with safety oversight in India, including a lack of training and a shortage of full-time flight operation inspectors. These problems, the US regulator says, have now been rectified after India’s government took “corrective action”, including hiring an extra 51 flight-safety inspectors and introducing a new certification process for its 34 flight-training schools.
The reinstatement is great news for Air India and Jet Airways (the only two Indian carriers that fly to the US) as the downgrade meant they couldn’t introduce new flights to the country.
The downgrade last year also meant that Jet and Air India were subject to increased scrutiny on existing flights into the US, and saw India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation introduce surprise checks on its carriers every month in a bid to ensure safety.
The new higher safety rating leaves Jet and Air India free to follow through with their plans to increase the number of flights they make to the US and other countries, which they no doubt will soon.
It also enables India’s other airlines to introduce flights to the US and also to enter into codeshares with US-based carriers, which is great news for India’s burgeoning commercial aviation sector.
Here’s hoping that India’s government continues down this path and doesn’t let training of flight inspectors and staff shortages slide down the political agenda again.
India’s carriers would hate to see history repeat itself.