June 13, 2021

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Spicejet's airplane lands at Pakyong airport

ICAO Audit Findings: Bureaucracy Lets India’s Civil Aviation Down

nstitutions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation like the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stand fully exposed now. As per ICAO, India's dismal performance is due to the government's neglect of

ICAO Audit Findings: India presents a poor report card.

ICAO Audit : Indonesia has performed better than India on all the eight parameters while Malaysia is better than India in five parameters.


The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) routinely conducts audits to oversee member states’ safety capabilities and the status of states’ implementation of all safety-relevant ICAO standards and recommended practices, associated procedures, guidance material, and best safety practices. As a part of its global Universal Safety Audit Program, 2017, it has been found that India’s report card has been very poor.

The ICAO audit has disclosed that:
– India has failed to meet global average in five out of eight categories.
– In all the eight parameters, India lags behind Indonesia and Bangladesh
– Singapore stood at 100 per cent in three out of eight parameters and above 95 percent in all the categories.

India is better in global average only in two categories: Operation and Airworthiness.

The Scenario.
There are 1000s of air travelers in India
There are 1000s of air travelers in India

Read : Jet Airways Incident

ICAO has stated the obvious. Today, ICAO has only given its stamp of approval. The aviation business in India has grown immensely, 100s of planes have been bought, a number of planes have been ordered, ( See Spicejet) and 1000s of tons of carbon have been injected into the environment by them. This bears a testimony. It could have grown more, had the Bureaucratic Institutions kept pace with the trajectory.

Institutions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation like the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stand fully exposed now. As per ICAO, India’s dismal performance is due to the government’s neglect of aviation regulator, DGCA.

The DGCA like bodies and their officers can no longer claim any credit in the growth of India’s civil aviation. This is increasingly becoming evident as they generally have to face embarrassment in their social and professional circles.

In addition to the number of several pending court cases against the DGCA, this ICAO audit has given them a brutally frank thumbs-down!

Millions of air travelers
Millions of air travelers in India

The Chief Issue.

It is the functioning of Indian bureaucracy – the DGCA like bodies are grossly under-staffed. Instead of having a 110% manpower strength, they have been enduring with 70% or less.  Despite heavy workloads, its offices do not observe 24/7/365 discipline. Its officers get time bound promotions with unfailing regularity. The end result of all this  is there for everyone to see. ICAO, the world’s supreme aviation body, has said in no uncertain terms, “The DGCA is incompetent.”

The Centre must realise that the DGCA does not deal with thin air, it is the country’s official, legitimate and legal regulator of all machines which fly in the air, and as such, its highly technical nature of job must be given its due appreciation. While the number of airplanes continued to increase, the manpower at DGCA like bodies didn’t. As a result, today one officer carries more than one postings and as such he doesn’t do justice to any. Vacancies remain vacant and aspiring applicants stay lined up for several years. This picture does not need an ICAO audit. It is obvious and well known. The ICAO will be tearing its hairs when it sees the recruitment processes in an Indian Government department post-Lalu era of social justice.

Possible Consequences.

This ICAO audit development does not come as a welcome news for a number of such officers. With a huge loss in credibility, hereinafter, they will be confronted with various uncomfortable questions and remarks in their social and professional circles. The ICAO audit report may even be cited as a reference in the number of court cases too, wherein they will have to do lots of explaining. The court might view the respondent, the DGCA, as one having ‘dubious’ credentials. 

Moreover, the DGCA will not command the same respect amongst the operators and its various other examinees. 

Despite this shortcoming, a minor hiccup by India’s standards, India continues to rule the world of aviation. Please note that number of Indian fliers is 123 million which is under 5% of its population!Safety Audit

No country, no airline, no plane maker and no oil company can dream of not doing business with India. The Boeings, the Airbuses will collapse overnight if India is not in their loop. The world has found this out to be true in every segment of the economy. The comparison with India’s South Asian neighbors ends here. This is precisely what the power of might is all about.

The case of downgrade does not apply to India. Who can downgrade whom, time has already told. The US and its allies have already got a taste of this medicine. It  tried to downgrade India once – in 2014 but removed the downgrade within a year.

ICAO may have its own sets of safety aviation parameters and so has India. ICAO is free to conduct any number of audits and can award any score to anybody. India’s aviation is unstoppable. India may not be able to even meet the global average score of effective implementation in ICAO’s eight parameters, but this doesn’t make any difference. Despite such poor ICAO scores, Air India did mange to unearth a few ‘hero’ pilots who could fly a B777 without ILS!

The truth remains that India continues to do aviation business worth trillions of $$$ and burns ATF worth billions of $$ every year. The figures keep on increasing even as you read this. India is such a super power!!

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