ICAO to honour India for resolving aviation ‘safety oversight deficiencies’

NEW DELHI: India’s recent attempts to strengthen regulatory mechanism for safer civil aviation has won it applaud from United Nations’ aviation arm, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “It will be an honour to recognize your state by presenting the council president certificate to you at a special ceremony that will be held at ICAO HQ in Montreal during the 40th session of the Assembly (September 4-October 4, 2019).” ICAO Council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said in a letter to aviation authorities on June 20.

Aliu’s letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said India has been selected to receive the prestigious council president certificate “in recognition of (its) progress in resolving its safety oversight deficiencies and improving the effective implementation (EI) of applicable ICAO standards and recommended practices… (This award) was established in support of the ‘no country left behind’ initiative.”

Following an audit of Indian aviation in 2017, ICO had lowered India’s EI from 65.82% to 57.44% against world average of 62% mainly on the issue of air traffic controllers’ (ATCO) licensing. Later India took steps to do ATCO licensing, among other things. Then, last November ICAO again audited the DGCA to see if the shortcomings had been addressed to make flying safer here. It completed validation process of DGCA oversight system in areas of legislation, organisation, air navigation services, aerodromes and accident investigation. Before leaving, ICAO told the Indian authorities that the country’s EI score could rise significantly.

The overall EI figure is arrived at as an aggregate of individual scores in eight fields like legislation, organisation, personnel licensing and airworthiness of aircraft. This score gives an overall picture of how a country is complying with global aviation safety practices under different heads.

The UN agency’s “universal safety oversight audit program” (USOAP) audit in November 2017 had objected to ATCOs being employees of the same organisation that licences them, the Airports Authority of India (AAI). This, they said, was akin to an airline issuing flying licence to pilots and then making them fly its planes. Due to this the EI of the area of personnel licensing alone fell from 89.47% to 26.04%. India later decided DGCA will issue licences to ATCOs.

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