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New Delhi: The UN aviation watchdog, which had ranked India among 13 nations with the worst record for air safety oversight, may remove the country from its blacklist after a week-long compliance audit of the Indian aviation regulator this week, according to the regulator.

“They have found that India has successfully addressed significant safety concerns as per the corrective action plan. And they would recommend that India no longer remains in the significant safety concerns state list," director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra said in an interview.

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 organization clubbed India with 12 other nations including Angola, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kazakhstan and Lebanon on account of air safety oversight.

The DGCA had subsequently given Icao a corrective action plan that it intended to implement by June 2013. The Icao team was in India this week to check on the implementation of this corrective plan. On Friday, the DGCA was briefed by the visiting Icao team.

DGCA has been working on these concerns raised by Icao since January.

The Icao findings had led to Japan stalling Air India’s plan to start flights to Osaka and also prompted the US regulator Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) to seek an audit next month, Mint reported on 21 August. A downgrade in an FAA audit could potentially stop any new flights to the US by Indian carriers.

“Safety is a continuous process and we have to continuously work towards ensuring safe skies. This will help in the FAA audit," Mishra said, referring to the closure of Icao findings that will allow Air India to start new flights to Japan. The final report will be delivered to DGCA by Icao in a few weeks.

In a 2006 Icao audit, the organization had warned about air safety oversight in India, after which the US aviation regulator threatened to downgrade India’s safety ranking, a move that would have stopped Indian airlines, including Air India Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, from adding flights to the US and forcing extra checks on aircraft at US airports. The matter was later resolved. India has had a patchy air safety record in recent years. Nearly 300 people have lost their lives between Icao’s 2006 audit and the latest one completed in December. It conducts these audits every six years. As many as 158 people died in India’s worst air crash in a decade in Mangalore in 2010 when an Air India Express flight IX-812 overshot a hilltop runway.

The record of charter aircraft has been worse. Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu was killed with four others after a Eurocopter helicopter operated by Pawan Hans crashed in bad weather in May 2011. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy also died when his state government-owned Bell 430 helicopter crashed in a dense forest while flying to a village in Chitoor district in September 2009.

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