Several members of the Airport Authority of India Retired Officers Forum (AAIROF) have expressed concern at downgrading of country’s air safety to category 2 from category 1 early this year based on US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), preventing Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US, partnering American airlines or using planes other than those they are now flying.

“ This is for the first time India’s safety has been downgraded, some of the issues raised by FAA on safety of passengers still remain unresolved , the down grade has happened despite India having a record of successfully developing world class international airports in various countries including Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Maldives, Tanzania, Malaysia and Nauru with countless first” said Dr. S. S. Sidhu former Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) while speaking at the memorial lecture in the memory airport expert P.S.Sandhawalia organised by AAIROF here late last evening.

“ The move also leaves the Indian regulator — the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA — open to the accusation that it’s being remiss in ensuring the safety of passengers and didn’t do enough to avoid relegation. India now becomes one of 13 countries that are rated category 2 by the US. Bangladesh and Indonesia are also among them.” Said Mr Sidhu.

“The grade means the US regards India as not being compliant with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards. To get around the restriction, Indian carriers will need to lease aircraft and crew from a duly authorised and properly supervised US or foreign carrier from a category 1 country. Wet leasing covers aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance.” Said Mr B.S. Das former chairman of International Airport Authority of India (IAAI) sharing similar concern.

“India has produced airport engineers like P. S Sandhawalia, who was founder of IAAI who is well known globally for setting up international airports and introducing airport engineering in IIT’s and other engineering colleges in the country. So the issues raised by FAA should be overcome and help bringing India back in Category 1 in the coming FAA audit” said Mr K.K.Kapila, member, AAIROF and Chairman International Road Federation (IRF). Those present on the occasion included Airport Authority of India (AAI) chairman S.Raheja, and V.P.Aggarwal, President AAIROF .