India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association(BAOA) has accused the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of trying to undermine the industry’s reputation by leaking observations made about non-scheduled operators during routine safety checks. According to the industry group, government officials have disclosed the findings of the checks to divert blame away from the DGCA in the wake of the January 2014 downgrading of India’s safety rating by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Most of the cases brought to light have been minor and level-two observations, which do not even prescribe the grounding of aircraft or penalties,” BAOA secretary R.K Bali told AIN. “This is causing damage to the business aviation industry, as it tries to limp back to a saner business environment.”
In a letter of complaint sent from BAOA to India’s civil aviation secretary, Ashok Lavasa, Bali argued that India’s safety downgrade “is more a result of deficiencies on the regulator’s part.” He accused DDCA officials of trying “to detract attention and to shift blame for the FAA downgrade onto private aircraft operators.”
In March, DGCA issued safety guidelines and threatened to cancel the air operator permits of any operators failing to conform to safety standards. The development came in the run up to India’s national elections as politicians scurried to charter aircraft to make campaign flights.
Between August 2012 and August 2013, India’s general aviation fleet shrank from 558 to 525 aircraft. BAOA insists that despite a lack of infrastructure and a clear policy framework, India’s general aviation sector has a good safety record. “The credit for this goes to the industry,” Bali said.