India unhappy as US downgrades air safety

2014-01-31 17:03
Air India domestic flight file photo. (Sam Panthaky, AFP)

Air India domestic flight file photo. (Sam Panthaky, AFP) (Sam Panthaky)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

New Delhi - US aviation authorities have downgraded India's safety ranking in a "disappointing" and "surprising" move that will hit air links between the countries, India's aviation minister said on Friday.

The US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India after conducting an audit last year of the country's aviation regulator that found 31 issues of safety concern, a ministry statement said.

The issues include the need for more and better trained full-time inspectors employed by the regulator tasked with carrying out safety checks on all types of aircraft and helicopters in India, it said.

"They have downgraded us to category 2. It is very disappointing and also surprising," Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said at a press conference in New Delhi.

The FAA has "determined that India at this time is not in compliance with the international standards for aviation safety oversight," according to FAA notes given to Indian regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The rating downgrade brings India below Pakistan and on a par with countries like Bangladesh, Ghana and Indonesia, according to FAA.

The downgrading effectively bars Air India and Jet Airways from increasing flights to the US, and additional safety checks will now be imposed on existing flights to the United States, the FAA's website shows.

Currently, Air India has 21 flights to the US per week while Jet Airway flies seven.

Indian airlines will also have to snap ties with US airlines, according to the website, but DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar said the downgrade would not affect the code-share agreement.

Jet has a code-share agreement with United Airlines currently, while Air India is joining Star Alliance.

Singh said 95% of issues raised by the FAA have been resolved, while the remainder were expected to be resolved by March, adding it was the first time India had suffered a downgrade.

"They [FAA] should have based their decision on the situation now," said Singh, adding that the FAA's downgrade was based on air safety in September.

Diplomatic spat

The downgrade is the latest controversy between the US and India, which are attempting to put diplomatic relations back on track after outrage in December over the arrest and strip search of an Indian envoy in New York.

The envoy, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested on charges of visa fraud involving her domestic servant and lying about how much she paid her. Khobragande denied any wrongdoing and eventually returned to India after a deal was struck between the two nations to mend their relations.

In a bid to head off the downgrade, the government announced two days ago that 75 new positions would be created in the DGCA to carry out safety inspections.

"This is an important step that will aid in India regaining its former Category 1 status in the future," the FAA said in its notes to the DCGA and released by the minister.

"The United States Government commends the Indian government for taking these important actions and looks forward to continued progress by Indian authorities," the FAA said.

India's aviation sector has grown enormously in the last decade, as the 1.2-billion population becomes more affluent, boosting the number of international and domestic passengers.

But the sector has been hit in the past by safety scandals, including over fake pilots flying with fake qualifications in 2001.

Police made several arrests over the scandal involving cases of pilots exaggerating their flying time while training and other irregularities.

In one such case, a captain who made several bad landings was found to have submitted faked paperwork to gain her licence.

Experts said they expected the downgrade as the aviation regulator had failed to address earlier FAA warnings in a given period of time.

"The decision of the FAA to downgrade is both embarrassing and disgraceful ... but one could see it coming," former Air India executive director Jitendra Bhargava told AFP. "The DGCA should take this as a wake up call."

Read more on:    faa  |  us  |  india  |  air travel
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

German Customer Service Representative - Cape Town, South Africa: R10,000 - R15,000

Atlantic Seaboard
Initiate International
R10 000 - R15 000 Per Month

Waiter

Western Cape
JPTM HOLDING (Pty) Ltd Trading as GLOBE Recruitment
R5 000 - R6 000 Per Month

IT Support Specialist

Cape Town
DAV Professional Placement Group

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.