May 6, 2015

After Indian authorities addressed concerns raised last year by the FAA, the regulatory agency has restored India’s Category 1 aviation-safety rating. Category 1 is the FAA’s highest rating in its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, meaning that the country’s civil aviation authority complies with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

An FAA team in India had audited critical areas of India’s safety oversight system, such as operating regulations; systems and functions; availability of technical personnel and their training, licensing and certification; and resolution of safety issues before downgrading the country to Category 2 in January 2014.

A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

The agency also asked Indian authorities to hire people with technical background at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which has typically been headed by a senior civil service official. The DGCA has had six directors-general since 2008.

During the 15 months from January 2014 when India’s aviation systems were downgraded to Category 2, business aircraft operating in and out of India were subject to additional scrutiny. Non-scheduled carrier executives alleged arbitrariness of flight inspectors, resulting in idling of assets and loss of revenue.

“A lot of procedural delays are happening because of flight operation inspectors and their differing approach while giving clearances following certification procedures,” the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) stated during the downgrade. BAOA represents general aviation interests in India.

“U.S. and Indian aviation officials have an important, cooperative working relationship,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing the upgraded safety rating. “The United States government commends the government of India for taking corrective action to address the safety oversight issues identified during the IASA process.”

India first achieved a Category 1 rating in August 1997.

Read the full statement on India’s upgraded safety rating.