Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US downgraded the safety ratings of Indian aviation on 31 January 2014. The safety ratings have been downgraded from top to the second category. The downgrading would affect expansion of flights by Indian carriers to the United States.
The downgrade from Category I to II means that Indian aviation regulator does not meet the safety standards set by the UN agency, International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The downgrading of Indian aviation was taken after Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) failed to address all the 33 concerns raised by the FAA in its safety audit conducted in September 2013 and December 2013.
Among the concerns raised by the FAA over 33 issues were filling up of several senior positions including those of full-time Flight Operations Inspectors (FOIs), beefing up of aviation safety training programmes and preparing manuals and documentation on certain safety issues.
The FAA downgrade of India's safety rankings would effectively bar Air India and Jet Airways from increasing flights to the US from what they currently operate or have any new code-share relationships with any US airline.
However, it does not mean that these airlines are unsafe but show that the DGCA's safety oversight may not be enough to properly monitor safety performance of Indian carriers.
The FAA over the years has downgraded ratings of several nations including that of close ally Israel, Mexico, Venezuela and the Philippines. It has used downgrade as more of a tool to pressurise countries to shape up their regulatory schemes but not as a warning of imminent safety problems.