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Sandilands and the ICAO/FAA audit of India – 2008 and Australia??

The following was posted by Ben Sandilands on 1st February 2014:


Monday, February 3, 2014

India busted to level 2 safety rating, is Australia next?

India’s airlines will suffer from US safety sanctions and reputational damage following its failing an American FAA audit of its aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

As this report explains, its demotion from a level 1 to level 2 safety rating means means that India’s civil aviation authority does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organization standards and is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel and record-keeping or inspection procedures.

India’s flag carrier cannot increased their flights to the US, their code shares with American carriers are broken, and they are subject to enhanced scrutiny at American airports.

Australia has in the past failed FAA audits but survived downgrading by diplomatic intervention.

This may not be enough for Australia to avoid suffering a similar fate to India, mainly because of the gross failures of integrity and competency displayed by CASA and the ATSB in relation to the failed oversight of of Pel-Air’s aerial ambulance work with Westwind corporate jets before and at the time of the crash of such a flight near Norfolk Island  in 2009, and the appallingly flawed crash report that was exposed by a Senate inquiry that the new Minister for Transport has yet to respond to.

The consequences for Qantas and Virgin Australia of such US sanctions on their American code-shares and services would be costly and serious. While some argue that such an outcome is unlikely, the FAA’s sanctioning in the past of Israel and now India makes it possible.

Pel-Air is a scandal that keeps on stinking, as does the failure of CASA to do anything material to fix the rules that applied to the fuel and flight planning of such missions for more than four years, even thought it has admitted that changes need to be made.

If very decisive action isn’t taken over deficient or ineffective public administration of air safety standards and operator oversight in this country, Australia will-get-busted, just like Israel and now India.

  • Dan Dair
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    If such a downgrading happened;

    What would have to happen for Grade 1 status to be returned to Australian aviation.?

    Approximately, how much in $ terms would the loss of US codeshares cost Australian airlines.?

    What non-US consequences would there be regarding codeshares or scrutiny, especially in Europe.?

    Essentially, I think I’m asking if Australian carriers can afford for this to happen and what, if any, pressure can they bring to ensure that it doesn’t.?

  • 2
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    A downgrading of Australia would produce short-term pain, but long-term gain.

    It would force Australia to improve its aviation regulation, just like India is now taking action to improve the way it regulates aviation. The improvements that India is now making would not have happened without the downgrade.

    In Australia, the Labor government failed to take action when needed. Now it has become clear that the Abbott government is also not taking decisive action.

    Therefore, an FAA downgrade is the only thing that will force Australia to get its house in order. A downgrade is preferable to a downing of an aircraft.

  • 3
    Dan Dair
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    This is what I’m getting at,
    At a time when Qantas is on it’s ass financially, surely it can’t afford to lose it’s revenues from it’s US codeshares or be restricted on what flights it can operate to & from the US.?
    I wouldn’t imagine that VAH would be enthusiastic about enduring similar losses either.?

    Would it not be in their own interests to put pressure on the regulators to sort themselves out.

    Or do you think Qantas management at least, is looking for yet another reason to say ‘this isn’t our fault, mate.?’

  • 4
    aubury martin
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The downgrade is by FAA but ICAO has a handy tool to compare safety capabilities of different authorities at http://www.icao.int/safety/Pages/USOAP-Results.aspx. Looking at the results of ICAO audit of Indian DGAC versus results for CASA, it’s clear that both perform better than global average. That’s not surprising because ICAO average is pulled down by many small states that have no pretensions of ever flying to the US. Note that India ranks better than Australia against half of audited performance criteria. Note too that ICAO last audited Australian in 2008 whereas India was reaudited in 2012. So Australia’s vulnerability hinges on whether it has improved over past five years. Make your own judgement.

  • 5
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Has the FAA ever been audited for ICAO compliance?

    If so, by whom?

  • 6
    aubury martin
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Yes, FAA has been audited by ICAO. See website referenced above. Also check out Singapore. Long ago Australia taught Singapore, now Singapore has an Aviation Academy that teaches the world.

  • 7
    Boston the Dog
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Who made the push for “affordable safety”? Dick did!


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