The Directorate General of Civil Aviation of India (DGCAI) recently received an upgrade of its rating from the FAA under its IASA. Now comes EASA and ICAO to repeat the same scrutiny as the American review. Why this redundant reevaluation?
Aviation created a global system of commercial air transportation when the requisite number of countries signed the Chicago Convention in 1947. That international agreement established the International Civil Aviation Organization, which was authorized, among a number of other duties, to assure that this network of countries meets the minimum requirements of safety. Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) is the tool which this UN agency uses to assess the compliance of its Member States. The FAA and EASA have mirrored the ICAO standards in their respective reviews of other sovereigns.
The FAA’s tool is called International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Program. Based on multiple visits by the US government, the DGCAI was found to be deficient and eventually determined to be in compliance, but noting that four conditions needed to be implemented. That process involved considerable dialogue and intense examination of the details of the leadership, staffing, standards and operations of the Indian safety body.
The questioning of the competence of a DGCA by its foreign equivalent must be offensive to the audited organization. When this questioning of the ability of an aviation safety body is repeated by three different organizations further exacerbates that tension. The obvious question is why the triplication?
The answer is equally uncomfortable—both the FAA and EASA feel the need to perform these independent audits to protect the passengers from their jurisdictions.
Perhaps, the solution is to create a 3rd party independent organization to replace the three reviews with one on behalf of all three. Maybe the Flight Safety Foundation or an aviation safety auditing organization can be designated to do the work instead. A single auditor would more likely to utilize consistent standards, to be able to spend more time with the DGCAs, to provide more follow-up and even to instill “best practices”. In that it would be a private institution, the administration might not be as offended because the individuals visiting their offices are “consultants” and not their intergovernmental equivalents.
This option might be a better way to achieve the goal of global safety with greater diplomacy and without triplication.