The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of USA, which conducted an audit of India's aviation watchdog DGCA, has made certain "observations" related to regulatory and guidance material, on which time-bound action will be taken, an official statement said on Sunday.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in the statement, said the FAA, under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme, conducted the audit between July 16 and July 20 in areas covering aircraft operations, airworthiness and personnel licensing.
It did not elaborate on the observations or the concerns flagged by the US regulator, but said the FAA team will come for a final consultation within 65 days wherein the DGCA shall present the action taken on the observations.
"Overall, the audit has been very satisfactory. According to the FAA's established process, a written report will be provided within next 30 days and thereafter an FAA team will come for final consultation within 65 days, wherein the DGCA shall present the action taken on the observations," the statement said.
The observations raised by FAA assume significance as those come against the backdrop of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), an UN body, giving a low score to India following an audit programme for the country, placing it below Pakistan, Nepal and many other nations.
The DGCA statement issued on Sunday said during the course of the IASA audit, the FAA team was shown regulations including extensive technical guidance in the areas of operations, airworthiness, surveillance and enforcement for the use of safety inspectors of DGCA to carry out licensing, certification, and approval obligations along with certification records.
The training programme provided to the technical officers and inspectors and records therein were also shown to the FAA audit team, the statement said, and underlined that the DGCA is commencing action on the observations made during the verbal out-brief given by FAA team and is very confident to addressing all those within a specific timeline.
It said that the FAA team gave a "verbal out-brief listing the observations" which relate to regulatory and guidance material issues within DGCA.
This was the third audit by the US regulator since 2013. In that year, the FAA had downgraded the safety ranking of the Indian aviation sector and it was restored only in 2015.
ICAO carried out the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme for India in November 2017, and another team of the regulator came in February this year. The audit result showed that the country's score declined to 57.44 per cent from 65.82 per cent earlier.
With the falling score, the government had last week said that it would soon empower the DGCA to regulate air traffic controllers.
The decline was mainly due to ratings of air traffic controllers being given by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is also the provider of air traffic control services, officials had said.
In a briefing following the ICAO's observation, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey and senior DGCA officials had emphasised that there are no safety concerns for the country's civil aviation space.
Now, it has been decided that the DGCA would carry out regulatory and safety oversight of air traffic controllers, Mr Choubey said.
According to officials, the ICAO had 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.
DGCA chief B S Bhullar said 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 UN aviation watchdog's score was based on eight audit areas, including primary aviation legislation and aviation regulations, civil aviation organisation, personnel licensing and training.