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FAA downgrade not to impact Air India's Star Alliance entry

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The government Friday said that the downgrading of Indian aviation sector by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not affect Air 's entry into the global interline marketing arrangement Star Alliance.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation K. C. Venugopal said Star Alliance has confirmed that the FAA safety assessment is a matter for the respective aviation authorities and the downgrade has no direct impact on the planned integration of .

Star Alliance decided to take Air India in its fold in December 2013.

"The integration involves aligning various processes and standards to the Star Alliance joining requirements," Venugopal informed the Lok Sabha, lower house of parliament.

On Jan 31, 2014, the FAA downgraded the safety ranking of India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The downgrade is expected to impact operations of Indian passenger carriers like Air India and Jet Airways which fly directly to the US, as their aircraft will have to undergo additional safety checks and stringent scrutiny before entering US airspace.

The will also not be able to add more flights to the US or enter into any code share agreement with US-based carriers.

Essentially, the downgrade means that the Indian aviation regulator does not meet international safety standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in areas such as adequate manpower for inspections and safety checks of aircraft.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said the government will get in touch with the FAA to get the DGCA back to category-I safety grade.

"Nearly all of the FAA findings on DGCA have been completed. Only two areas are left which will be completed by March. The DGCA will get in touch with the FAA to get itself restored to Category-I grade," Singh said.

The downgrade has placed India in Category-II in terms of safety related aspects of its civil aviation operations.

Earlier, the FAA in its audit of the DGCA in September 2013 had pointed out 31 inadequacies.

Industry experts say that the FAA downgrade will also have negative consequences for US-based suppliers of aviation and defence equipment.

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