India-US Civil Aviation Cooperation
September 25, 2008
The Partnership: The civil aviation sector is one of the fastest growing areas of Indo-US high technology and economic engagement. The Government of India and the Indian Industry seek technical, human resource, high technology and commercial support from the USA in its efforts to modernize the civil aviation Industry in India and to meet the challenges of its rapid expansion in terms of safety, customer demand, technology and communication support and air space management. Following the Open Skies Agreement between the countries in 2005, there has been a steady increase of air traffic between the two countries stimulating economic partnership and strengthening people to people contacts. Leading US aviation companies have established presence in India with a longer term strategy.
Umbrella Agreement on Civil Aviation: A Memorandum of Agreement (‘Umbrella Agreement’) between the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of USA and the Government of India was signed on 13th November, 2006 in New Delhi. The agreement provides for assistance by FAA to the Civil Aviation sector in India in developing and modernizing the civil aviation infrastructure in the managerial, operational and technical areas. The assistance essentially includes: providing technical and managerial expertise in developing, improving and operation of civil aviation infrastructure, standards, procedures, policies, training and equipment; providing training for civil aviation personnel; inspection and calibration of our civil aviation equipment and air navigation facility and assistance in airport certification in India among other things.
Salient features of the Open Skies Air Services Agreement with USA
· Multiple designation of airlines i.e. either side can designate any number of airlines.
· Unlimited frequency/capacity could be operated.
· Unrestricted points of call, i.e. airlines of either country can operate to any point in the territory of the other Contracting Party.
· Unlimited 5th freedom traffic rights through any intermediate point and to any beyond points could be exercised.
· No restriction on cargo flights i.e. either side can operate any number of freighter services to any airport in the other country.
· Traffic from one aircraft could be transferred to another aircraft at any point on the route.
· Airlines of both sides can code share with other airlines as well as domestic airlines of the other country.
The conclusion of this Agreement in April 2005 has boosted trade, tourism and business. Aircraft has emerged as the fastest growing component of US exports. Connectivity between the two countries has increased significantly with six new daily direct flights which have commenced since the signing of the Open Skies Agreement, another new daily flight (Jet Airways) is via Brussels. Air India began a new direct non-stop flight from New York to Delhi in February 2008. Kingfisher Airlines also plans to start flights including one linking Bangalore and San Francisco.
Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA); The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and FAA have also signed a Memorandum of Consultations (MOC), concerning cooperation for a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) on 13th November, 2006 under the Umbrella Agreement. As per the MOC the DGCA and FAA mutually affirm the intent to work cooperatively in areas leading towards a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) for reciprocal airworthiness certification of civil aeronautical products and technical cooperation in a range of aviation safety areas.
Accordingly a BASA Action Plan has been drawn out, the main features of which are :
(i) Identification of an Indian aeronautical product for certification
(ii) Issuance of an Indian Technical Standard Order (ITSO) for the identified product- This has been accomplished by adopting FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) and publishing DGCA ITSO to harmonise the design and test standards.
(iii)Training of DGCA officers on certification procedures in USA/and by US experts in India - This has been partially accomplished by deputing three officers to FAA office in Los Angeles for familiarization of the certification processes.
(iv) In parallel FAA has also agreed to consider co-certification of a major modification on HAL’s Dhruv Helicopter to be taken up for converting Dhruv into “single pilot IFR version”.
India–US Aviation Cooperation Programme: Recognizing the potential for further cooperation between the United States and India in the aviation sector, US Trade Development Agency (USTDA) initialed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ministry of Civil Aviation at the India-US Aviation Partnership Summit held in New Delhi in April 2007 to establish the U.S.-India Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP). The ACP was signed subsequently in June 2007 during the visit of the Minister (Civil Aviation) to USA. The ACP consists of a public-private partnership between USTDA, the FAA and several U.S. aviation companies to provide a forum for unified communications between the Government of India and U.S. public and private sector entities in India. Under the ACP framework, USTDA, Federal Aviation Administration, Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation and other U.S. and Indian public sector entities will partner with U.S. industry in identifying and supporting India's civil aviation sector modernization priorities. The ACP will serve as a mechanism through which Indian aviation sector officials can work with U.S. civil aviation representatives to highlight specific areas for bilateral technical cooperation. Initially, the ACP is expected to focus on activities that support air traffic/air space management enhancements and the challenge of rapidly increasing aviation traffic in India. India is the second country with which such a programme has been formed.
To carry forward the mandate of the ACP, an India-US Steering Committee has been set up under which Working Groups on Air Worthiness, Flight Standards, Airports and Environment have been set up. The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held in October, 2007. The following projects have been identified under the ACP:
· Technical Training for Aerospace Industry
· Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) Seminar
· Aircraft Pilot Capacity Assessment
· Aircraft maintenance Engineer (AME) Capacity study
· Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) and communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) Engineer capacity assessment.
India Aviation 2008: The USA is the partner country in the India Aviation 2008 show being planned to be held in October 2008. Leading global aviation companies along with a sizeable delegation from the US would be participating in the Show.