A Jet airways plane in Ahmedabad runway
THE United States has upgraded India’s aviation safety ranking, a senior official said on Wednesday (April 8), in a boost for the country’s international airlines following an embarrassing downgrade last year.
During a visit to New Delhi, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said India has taken “corrective action” to address safety issues and comply with international standards.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has given India a category one rating following last year’s downgrade to two that lumped it with small countries such as Barbados and Nicaragua.
“The United States Government commends the Government of India for taking corrective action to address the safety oversight issues identified during the IASA process,” Foxx said in a statement after meeting India’s Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
The FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) last year found concerns including a lack of independent and adequately trained inspectors employed by India’s regulator to carry out safety checks on aircraft.
The upgrade by the US regulator is expected to boost state-run Air India and Jet Airways, which fly to the United States.
Both carriers were unable to increase the number of flights to the US because of the category two downgrade and faced extra safety checks there.
Air India operates 21 flights to US per week while Jet Airways flies seven.
India’s government last year described the downgrade as disappointing and surprising.
The civil aviation regulator has been working to win back the higher rating, including by hiring more inspectors.
The country’s aviation sector has grown at breakneck speed, thanks to a rising middle class who can afford an alternative to dilapidated roads and railways.
But the sector has been hit by a series of safety problems including a scandal in 2011 over a number of unqualified Indian pilots flying on fake licences.
Last year the regulator ordered Jet Airways to suspend two pilots after a flight to Brussels dived 5,000 feet (1,500 metres), forcing air traffic controllers to issue an emergency warning.