India DGCA Audited Again
ICAO & the US Should Hold India to the Full Standards
They’re back!!! The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program auditors are coming to India in March, 2017. They were last there in 2012 and then it was determined that the DGCA qualified as one of the thirteen worst Civil Aviation Authorities around the world. The USOAP involves the review of a sovereign’s aviation safety program by a UN Organization of which India is a dues-paying member. Talk about a difficult government-to-government moment.
Since the last ICAO audit, the FAA, September 2014, scrutinized India under its similar IASA and found serious deficiencies. Magically, as President Obama visited the country on its Republic Day ceremony, Secretary Foxx (April 2015) issued a Category I determination and that was even conditioned on the IDGCA’s subsequent corrections. Subsequent reports (June 2015) have raised questions about the regulator’s efforts to meet the FAA’s conditions.
In addition to these deficiencies, the India DGCA looks towards considerable aviation growth. In the next two years, India’s airline fleets will add 60-65 narrow-body aircraft and 10-12 regional planes. “Rapid growth is straining the system, increasing safety and security risks which may become visible in 2017-18 as traffic reaches higher levels…The institutional and regulatory framework at the DGCA and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security is particularly weak and under-resourced. And these issues do not appear to be receiving the urgent attention that they require,” was the expert statement of an aviation consultant.
ICAO wanted to conduct the audit in March but agreed to defer the review eight months later, November, 2017.
India is one of the globe’s oldest countries and holds unequaled potential for future growth. Its abeyant aviation capacity is incredible. Until it is clear that the DGCA is competent to regulate its current demand plus growth in scheduled service as well as the plans to create an aerospace manufacturing sector, ICAO and the US should hold India to the full standards.