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Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, June 22, 2013
Concerned about air safety regulation in India, the US aviation safety regulator wants to conduct an independent audit of flight operations in India this August. Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told its Indian counterpart to prepare for the audit.
According to sources in the civil aviation ministry, the FAA’s concern stems from the United Nation’s aviation watchdog’s recent report on air safety regulations in India.

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh confirmed the forthcoming FAA audit. "We have received a letter about it, but I do not have the details," he said.

In March, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had named India among 13 countries with the most dismal air safety monitoring records.

According to the report, the DGCA’s safety monitoring standards have been below the global average across all parameters such as legislation, licensing, organisations, etc.

Air safety experts said that this audit was important because the FAA could downgrade India if its officials were not satisfied with the safety standards. "It could mean that the US government could introduce restrictions on Indian airlines operating in the US," said an air safety expert.

This is the second time that India is facing fears of being downgraded. In 2009, the FAA had threatened to revise India’s position to category II, citing massive staff shortage in the DGCA.