Friday, October 17, 2014

Indian aviation sector to be recertified post US demotion

Updated : Oct 16, 2014

For many players in India’s aviation sector, it is time to go back to basics. With an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit around the corner, sources say veteran airlines like Air India and Jet Airways and even new entrants like Vistara will have to go in for a re-certification reports CNBC-TV18s Sindhu Bhattacharya & Shereen Bhan. 

India's demotion to category-II safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year is both a boon and a curse. A boon, because the demotion has helped both airline companies and government agencies clean up their act, and rework the certification process by eliminating the many flaws that existed; A curse, because for many of these airlines, it means getting re-certified. This means a fresh look at almost every process at an airline, and applying for flying permits all over again. 

CNBC-TV18 learns that aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants to get this done before the next FAA audit, which could begin as early as December. To this end, sources say it has already begun rectifying one big problem - a shortage of flight operations inspectors. This puts Air India and Jet Airways, which have the most number of international flights, especially to the USA, first in the queue. 

The DGCA is keen on ensuring that airlines which seem to have bypassed, ignored or just not followed the rules laid down on paper, fall in line. This basically means a complete overhaul of all processes related to safety, training and licensing. So don't be surprised if airlines have to conduct 'proving flights' - something only an airline looking to fly for the first time usually has to do. 

Once Jet and Air India are done, it will be the turn of other players like SpiceJet. Already, the DGCA has found some lapses with SpiceJet's engineering checks. But this re-certification exercise will come as a bigger blow for new entrant Vistara. The airline has already had to push its maiden flight due to a delayed delivery of aircraft, and now, with a longer certification process before it, its maiden flight may now be at least 2-3 months away.

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