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ICAO gives India's aviation safety highest ever ranking; global ranking jumps from 102 to 48 now, above China & Turkey


Nov 12, 2022

NEW DELHI: Indian aviation safety oversight mechanism is now among the top 50 countries of the world at the 48th spot — a quantum leap from its 102nd rank four years ago. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had last month audited the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to check its effective implementation (EI) of critical safety elements.

Following that, the United Nation’s aviation arm has given the DGCA its highest ever EI score of 85.49% which puts India on the 48th spot, say top officials — a vast improvement from the last audit in 2018 score of 69.95% where India was at the 102nd rank with countries like Nepal (101st spot) Pakistan (100th spot), Bangladesh (94th spot) and Sudan (89th spot) above it. Now at its current 48th spot, India’s EI score is now above that of countries like China (49), Israel (50), Turkey (54), Denmark (55) and Poland (60).

The improved safety ranking will make it easier for Indian carriers to expand their wings abroad. Tata Group’s Air India and IndiGo have massive expansion plans. Airlines of countries with dubious aviation safety records find their aircraft being subjected to more surprise checks at airports abroad.

When reached for comment, DGCA chief Arun Kumar told TOI: “As we had earlier indicated, India fared extremely well in the ICAO’s recently conducted audit — ‘universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP) — and is likely to be placed in the company of ICAO contracting states (countries) that are known for their high levels of aviation safety. However, we are still awaiting a formal communication from ICAO which is expected shortly.”

The strict enforcement action taken by the DGCA in the past few years reportedly went down well with the auditors. The ICAO audit or “coordinated validation mission” called “USOAP continuous monitoring approach” was conducted in India from November 9 to 16, 2022. EI scores are given for eight areas. ICAO audited six critical areas in India during this audit that included legislation, organisation, personal licensing, operations, airworthiness and aerodromes. Two areas — aircraft accident and investigation, and air navigation services — were not audited and their scores remain the same as of the 2018 audit.

Teams from the UN agency went to Delhi Airport; IGI Airport air traffic control; Airport Authority of India’s communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) wing; budget carrier SpiceJet and a charter operator for field visits to conduct validation checks. Basically, they checked whether these places were following the rules in place. Incidentally, the field of “primary aviation legislation and specific operating regulations” India’s EI score is now 100% — up from 90.48% in 2018.

Similarly, the scores for “civil aviation organisation” rose from 63.64% to 72.73%; “personnel licensing and training” from 25.58% to 84.71%; “aircraft operations” from 80.34% to 97.44%; “airworthiness of aircraft” from 90.20% to 97.06% and “aerodromes and ground aids” from 72.36% to 92.68%. The two areas not audited retain their 2018 scores — “aircraft accident and investigation” at 64.56% and “ANS” at 72.73%.

  1. ICAO 2022 audit puts Indian DGCA at 48th spot with an effective implementation (EI) score of 85.49%
  2. India now ahead of China (49th spot), Israel (50), Turkey (54), Denmark (55) and Poland (60).
  3. Top five score countries: Singapore, UAE, South Korea, France and Iceland. US at 22nd place and Qatar at 25th place.
  4. ICAO 2018 audit had put Indian DGCA at 102nd spot with an effective implementation (EI) score of 69.95%
  5. Countries like Nepal (101), Pakistan (100), Bangladesh (94) were above it then
Primary aviation legislation and specific operating regulations

2018: 90.48%

2022: 100%

Civil Aviation Organisation

2018: 63.64%

2022: 72.73%

Personnel licensing and training

2018: 25.58%

2022: 84.71%

Aircraft operations

2018: 80.34%

2022: 97.44%

Airworthiness of aircraft

2018: 90.20%

2022: 97.06%

Aerodromes and ground aids

2018: 72.36%

2022: 92.68%

Not audited:

Aircraft accident and investigation

2018: 64.56%

2022: Remains the same

Not audited:

Air navigation services: 72.73%

2022: Remains the same

(Source: DGCA official)

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