With the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) set to conduct an audit of Indian aviation capabilities, the country’s civil aviation regulator has launched the process of filling vacancies in its ranks and re-certifying airlines and training institutions.

Director general of civil aviation (DGCA) M. Sathiyavathy on Tuesday said ICAO is likely to conduct its audit in November or December.

Sathiyavathy said US aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had flagged certain issues around India’s flight safety inspectors, flying schools, certification process of airlines and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) inspection procedures.

In January last year, FAA had downgraded the country’s ranking, citing a lack of adequate regulatory oversight. It invited tighter scrutiny of air-worthiness and safety. Indian airlines were also not allowed to add new routes to the US.

The ICAO audit is critical as India got back its Category 1 FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) status in April after a year’s hard work on building capacity for flight operation inspections and the supporting processes for safety oversight.

The DGCA said the directorate has filled up 70% of all flight safety inspector vacancies.

“We have also started re-certifying airlines and have completed six airlines. We will complete re-certifying all airlines by March based on new procedures," Sathiyavathy added.

Vistara, Air India, Jet Airways, JetKonnect, Truejet and Air Pegasus are the six airlines which have been re-certified.

She said re-certification of all 35 flying schools in the country will be completed in the next nine months.

“Safety must be managed and improved every day. So it is important, we continue this momentum as India undergoes ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) later this year," said Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive officer at International Air Transport Association (Iata), a lobby representing nearly 260 airlines.

“We certainly would not want ICAO to raise any red flags in USOAP—as has recently been the case with some of India’s southeast Asian neighbours," Tyler said.

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