US Downgrades India’s Air Safety Rating

Indian airlines are now as safe as those of Swaziland, Uruguay and Zimbabwe, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. The country’s safety ranking has been downgraded to category 2 from category 1 based on FAA’s December audit, preventing Indian carriers from expanding operations to the US, partnering American airlines or using planes other than those they are now flying.

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.

This is the first time that India’s safety ranking is being cut. Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, who announced the downgrade in New Delhi, said he was disappointed by the decision and will seek to make sure that all safety requirements are in place by March. India has been trying to remedy the situation but ran out of time, he suggested. Just two of the 31 issues that FAA had raised in its September audit remained to be resolved, he said.

India now becomes one of 13 countries that are rated category 2 by the US. Bangladesh and Indonesia are also among them.

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