Alleged Quote attributed to India DGCA about IASA is Disturbing

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India warns FAA over air safety downgrade

Might lay embargo on the delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to Air India

By TBM Staff | Mumbai

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The FAA, like ICAO, has instituted a program, the International Aviation Safety Audit Program, the purpose of which is to assure that US citizens can travel safely on foreign air carriers which hold authority to fly to/from the US. Recognizing that surveilling every such carrier is a practical impossibility, the FAA decided to focus on the governmental bodies which do constantly review the safety of those airlines. The dimensions of the review of foreign civil aviation authorities are carefully defined, are similar to those relied on by IATA and applied solely on the basis of safety considerations.The TravelBizMonitor reports that the DGCA of India has “warned” the FAA not to downgrade its IASA rating or the government, which owns its flag carrier, would delay the delivery of the B-787s on order. The report is a quote from an Indian publication of an unnamed official. Hopefully this hearsay statement is inaccurate; for such a threat, if it was made, would be offensive, stupid and unlikely to succeed.

IASA is, indeed, a test of diplomacy; for it involves a sovereign reviewing the internal exercise of the powers of another sovereign. The FAA is sensitive to that difficult dynamic and its processes attempt to limit its criticism to true measures of merit, to those practices, procedures and personnel which are so deficient as to impact safety. The “auditors” are trained to disregard cultural differences. Their findings have been delivered to other CAAs and have been the basis for an improvement.

If the quote is accurate, it is inappropriate for an official of the Government of India to link commercial interests to the US’s governmental actions. The Republic Of India regulates aviation through the DGCA and owns Air India Limited; that duality of functions is not mirrored in the US. The FAA regulates, but has no economic interest in, the Boeing Company. The alleged intimation that the FAA’s judgment of the DGCA could be influenced by such a threat evidences either a lack of knowledge (stupid) of the US IASA’s record or insinuates a relationship which is offensive. Finally, because the FAA Administrator has no loyalty to any commercial interest, the “warning” is not likely to be successful. All of these observations, one would assume, would be known by a senior DGCA official and thus add further to the likelihood that the quote is specious.

The reports about the DGCA may tend to complicate the matter. A former NTSB member has called into question the efficacy of the DGCA’s regulatory efforts. Other reports have called into question the DGCA’s staffing, whether it employs adequate personnel  . These are not insubstantial questions. It might be worthwhile for the DGCA to assess its internal capabilities and to preempt any negative IASA assessment.

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