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FAA’s India Downgrade Risks Attracting Scrutiny by Others

India Air Safety Rankings
An aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's downgrade of India for safety risks will draw scrutiny from other countries’ regulators, the head of the global airlines’ biggest group said.

“It’s not surprising others are saying that if the FAA is concerned, maybe we should be concerned too,” Tony Tyler, head of the International Air Transport Association, said in Singapore today.

The FAA on Jan. 31 downgraded India’s ranking to Category 2 from Category 1, putting it on par with Zimbabwe and Indonesia, after a review of the country’s aviation regulator revealed that its safety oversight processes don’t meet global standards. That forced Indian carriers to freeze capacity to the U.S. at current levels.

Within a week, Singapore’s aviation regulator reacted by increasing inspection of Indian aircraft and the European Commission said the FAA move was of “significant interest” to the European Union.

Japan’s Civil Aviation Authority also said it would talk to the FAA and Indian officials before considering its position.

While the downgrade constitutes a criticism of the country’s regulatory framework, it’s the individual airlines that end up suffering, Tyler told journalists at a briefing in Singapore ahead of an industry gathering.

The U.S. is now working with Indian officials to see what changes can be introduced to allow the country’s ranking to be restored to its previous level.

“It’s not good for a country’s reputation to be on this list,” Tyler said. “It’s a strong motivator to get off.”

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