New Delhi: The UN aviation watchdog, which had clubbed India among 13 nations with the worst record of air safety oversight, has removed the country from its blacklist after a compliance audit of the Indian aviation regulator last week.
“They have issued an order which we have just received that they have found India compliant. They have removed us from significant safety concerns list,” director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra said in an interview.
The clearance will allow India’s major airlines, including Air India Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, to expand overseas.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), of which India is a member, completed an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in December and found it wanting in its ability to oversee safety issues.
Icao had identified a “significant safety concern with respect to the ability of this state (India) to properly oversee areas” under airworthiness and operations, in its report.
The concern on airworthiness related to approval of major modifications and repairs carried out on foreign manufactured aircraft and registered in India while the concern on operations related to the procedure for grant of Air Operator Permit to non-scheduled operators and flight documentation system of scheduled airlines. The organization clubbed India with 12 other nations, including Angola, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kazakhstan and Lebanon, on air safety oversight.
DGCA subsequently gave Icao a corrective action plan that it intended to implement by June. The Icao team was in India last week to check on the implementation of this corrective plan. On Friday, DGCA was briefed by the visiting Icao team.
DGCA has been working on the issues raised by Icao since January.
Icao’s December audit led to Japan stalling Air India’s plan to start flights to Osaka and prompted the US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to seek an independent audit which will be conducted next month, Mint reported on 21 August. A downgrade in the FAA audit could bar any new flights to the US by Indian carriers.
“Just because Icao has removed us from the blacklist it does not mean that FAA audit is going to be a cakewalk,” said aviation analyst Mohan Ranganathan and member of the government-appointed Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council, “If from this clearance they sit back and become complacent they have to remember that since 2006 audit we have had more than 18 aircraft overruns resulting in two ATRs being written off and one Boeing 737 taking 158 lives.”
Spokespersons of Air India and Jet Airways did not offer any immediate comment on the matter.
Separately, Jet said on Thursday that it would launch a new flight to Singapore from Mumbai.
IndiGo pulled out from the Singapore sector from Delhi and Mumbai earlier this year.
“With the introduction of this additional flight, we aim to provide our guests seamless connectivity to points across Asia, Australia and New Zealand from Singapore. The new flight would also help in connecting our guests flying into Mumbai from Jet Airways’ extended network to Singapore and beyond,” said Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer, Jet Airways. This new service from 1 November on Boeing 737-800 aircraft will complement the night flight currently in operation, on Mumbai-Singapore route by Jet Airways on Airbus 330.
Air India also started its first flight to Australia’s Sydney after many years on the Boeing Dreamliner 787 from Thursday.