The downgrade will hit operations of Indian passenger carriers like Air India and Jet Airways which fly directly to the US, as their aircraft will have to undergo additional safety checks and stringent scrutiny before entering US airspace.
The Indian airlines will also not be able to add more flights to the US or enter into any code share agreement with US-based carriers.
Essentially, the downgrade means that the Indian aviation regulator does not meet international safety standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in areas such as adequate manpower for inspections and safety checks of aircraft.
However, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the government will get in touch with the FAA to get the DGCA back to category-I safety grade.
“Nearly all of the FAA findings on DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) have been completed. Only two areas are left which will be completed by March. The DGCA will get in touch with the FAA to get itself restored to category-I grade,” Singh said.
The downgrade has placed India in category-II in terms of safety related aspects of its civil aviation operations. Also, the downgrade might impact Air India’s prospects of entering inter-line pact Star Alliance, which has US-based airlines as members.
An FAA delegation Friday conveyed its decision to the new DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar.
Earlier, the FAA in its audit of the DGCA in September 2013, had pointed out 31 inadequacies.
Sectoral experts pointed out that the FAA downgrade will have negative consequences for both Indian aviation and US-based suppliers of aviation and defence equipment.
“The FAA downgrade is unfortunate but not unexpected. Many in the industry had seen it coming. We need to address the genuine safety concerns highlighted by FAA,” Amber Dubey, partner and head – aerospace and defense at consultancy firm KPMG said.
Recently, to avoid a downgrade the government had approved creation of 75 posts for technical staff at the DGCA to look after safety, training and certification responsibilities.
The civil aviation ministry had said that 29 out of 31 findings of the FAA audit had been implemented and that two more recommendations will be completed soon.
The government added that it was in the final stages of creating a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which will replace the DGCA.