As per an aviation safety audit, India ranks below its neighbouring nations of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and North Korea. In the Asia-Pacific region, the only countries that India precedes on this list are Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Samoa, which are smaller nations in comparison to the India.
The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme identifies the effectiveness and consistency with which countries implement critical elements of a safety-oversight system.
Conducted late last year and then again this year by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the audit shows that India has slipped from its previous ranking of 66 pc to 57 pc.
India is one of the 15 countries that are below the minimum target rates. The low rank can cause negative repercussions to the Indian aviation.
One of the major setbacks can be a potential downgrade for some Indian airlines by the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A possibility is that of the US barring new flights into its skies from India and more checks on Indian carriers such as Air India and Jet Airways, which fly to the US.
The downgrade can hinder the global expansion plan of Indian carriers. India has already been downgraded once, in 2014, ranking alongside Ghana, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe, and was only uplifted after a year.
As per reports, one reason why India scored low in the audit is the government’s neglect of aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA is now said to be working out systems that would improve the effective implementation levels as required by the ICAO.
The ICAO usually scrutinises the organisation, licensing, operations, airworthiness, legislation, accident investigation, air navigation services, aerodromes. Presently, India fails to meet at least five of these eight categories.
As of now one of the key areas of concern highlighted by the ICAO auditors are of the licensing of air-traffic controllers (ATC), which was being carried out by the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI). As per aviation standards, it is the DGCA that should issue licenses to ATC officials.