New Delhi: The United Nations watchdog International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has selected India’s current director general of civil aviation (DGCA) Arun Mishra as its new regional director for the Asia-Pacific region.

Mishra, a 1986-batch West Bengal cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, who is yet to accept the position, will replace Pakistani diplomat Mokhtar A. Awan at the ICAO regional office in Bangkok if the process goes through government channels.

ICAO offered the position to Mishra last month, but he has been tied up because of an upcoming compliance audit by the US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said two government officials aware of the matter who declined to be named.

FAA decided to inspect DGCA for compliance with corrective measures to address 33 deficiencies that surfaced in its September audit of the Indian regulator. The deficiencies highlighted by the FAA included lack of sufficient manpower, absence of proper documentation and conflict of interest. An FAA team is visiting India between 11 and 13 December.

“A decision will be taken after that on the ICAO position," said one of the two persons cited above. “He will be the first Indian to occupy this position."

Mishra, 51, still has nearly a decade left in the IAS. It is still not clear, however, whether he will have to leave the IAS to accept the offer from the ICAO, said the second government official.

The ICAO position is for a four-year term and extendable by another four years.

Awan will retire on 31 December, but it is unlikely that Mishra will join the position from 1 January; he may seek a few weeks’ time to join, the second official said.

The Indian government had in November approved an extension for Mishra as DGCA until the middle of next year but the West Bengal government, whose administrative cadre he belongs to, has said it wants him back by the end of the year.

The ICAO position will allow Mishra to remain in the aviation domain and not return to the state. Mishra has been with the aviation ministry since 2007 during which he has also done a stint as India’s representative to Montreal-based ICAO.

New York-based former Jet Airways CEO Steve Forte said the elevation of Mishra to the world’s top aviation body will help India play a bigger role in the region.

“India is definitely well thought of in international aviation circles," said Forte. “With this appointment, Mishra can influence ICAO’s Asia Pacific theatre of operations by homogenizing procedures for all countries and to ensure a progressive leadership focused on transport safety. It is a wonderful opportunity for India to demonstrate that aviation is taken very seriously by the country as well as the goodwill to cooperate with other international authorities to constantly improve the system."

Forte said FAA audit may not be influenced by the ICAO’s offer to Mishra.

“If the FAA is impartial in their checks, as it is expected to be, this appointment should not have any effect on the upcoming audit or its results. The basic fact of the matter is that if there are things to be done, then they must be done and not overlooked because of someone’s position of influence," he said. “The objective is not to pass the FAA audit, but to have a system that is safe and in accordance with current requirements and that, as such, it will pass the FAA or anybody’s audit."