DGCA to license Indian ATCOs after being ranked below the standard of Nepal

-NEW DELHI

India and UN global aviation watchdog International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has differed on a fundamental concept on the authority to license Air Traffic Controller. The difference has resulted in global aviation watchdog ICAO giving a low score to India after safety oversight audit. Senior Civil Aviation Ministry officials on Monday said India’s score after the latest ICAO audit fell to 57.44 per cent from the previous level of 65.82 per cent.

According to the latest ICAO audit data, India is placed below neighboring Nepal, Pakistan and many other countries. Following that the government has decided to entrust the regulation of air traffic controllers with the DGCA.

The DGCA is currently developing a system to oversee the controllers of AAI (Airport Authority of India), which once in place, would improve the effective implementation levels as required by the ICAO.

The ICAO told the ministry that there was a need for an independent regulatory oversight by the DGCA on the AAI with respect to air traffic controllers, the officials said. At present, the AAI is regulating as well as providing services of air traffic controllers.

According to DGCA chief B S Bhullar, if the ICAO had not taken this aspect into consideration, then India’s score after the audit would have been 71.13 per cent.

The ICAO carried out a detailed audit of India under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme in November 2017 and again another team came in February this year.

The score is based on eight audit areas, including primary aviation legislation and aviation regulations, civil aviation organisation, personnel licensing and training.

According to the latest ICAO audit data, India is placed below neighbouring Nepal, Pakistan and many other countries.

Choubey asserted that the ICAO did not raise any serious safety concerns after the audit. The safety and security of Indian aviation sector would not be compromised, he added. Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration today started an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The audit would cover three key areas — operations, airworthiness and pilots’ licensing mechanism.

Since 2013, this would be the third audit of the domestic aviation regulator by the FAA. In 2013, the American regulator had downgraded the safety ranking of the Indian aviation sector and it was restored only in 2015.

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