The Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) Mr. Taieb Cherif called on the Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Praful Patel, here today. The Secretary General is on a familiarization visit to India to see the Civil Aviations facilities of the country particularly in view of the phenomenon growth that the Civil Aviation sector has been experiencing in the country, and India being positioned very strategically for the growth of civil aviation in the world scenario.
According to the Secretary General, ICAO, the Asia Pacific Region is registering the highest growth in the civil aviation sector across the world and is expected to keep growing at a very fast pace in the next 10-15 years. Within this region India and China are leading and India has more potential for growth between the two.
The Minister for Civil Aviation was informed that the level of compliance of India in terms of safety oversight has been found to be higher than the world average by ICAO. Further the level of compliance of the 10,000 rules of ICAO pertaining to safety, is 99.3% – amongst the highest in the world. Besides this India is one of the first few countries who have conveyed their consent to the ICAO to make public their safety related information. The other member countries of ICAO are expected to do so only by March 2008. This showed India’s commitment to transparency and sharing of information and this effort of India was lauded by the ICAO.
Globally, by the year 2020 there will be seven billion passengers flying, therefore, the issues of infrastructure capacity, airline capacity, airspace management etc. are required to be addressed. However, the Secretary General was impressed that the India was one of the few countries of the world who had already started addressing these issues seriously.
Speaking about technical cooperation programmes, the Secretary General emphasized upon the need for increasing cooperation in the field of technical projects between ICAO and India. A number of technical cooperation projects are already under active collaboration. These relate to Consultancy by ICAO to HIAL, DIAL Master Plan etc. The ICAO was keen to give technical assistance in the following areas:-
· Next generation air transportation systems like ATM planning
· Technical assistance in modernization and upgradation of CNS and ATM facilities at Mumbai and Delhi Airports.
The Minister was agreeable to the above suggestions.
Two MOUs were signed between ICAO and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) today:-
(i) Providing fellowship training programme for aviation personnel of developing countries – this is expected to establish the leadership role of India in aviation.
(ii) Increased utilization of technical cooperation.
The Minister also agreed to the need for a technical cooperation mission office in India as an interface between India and ICAO in view of the increasing need for the technical cooperation between the two.
The Minister highlighted the need for having more airports in India and more flexible use of air space in the country. He said that it was now necessary to handle more flights in more airports as there would be need or multiple airports in one city very soon. For instance, he said that Mumbai might soon need even a third airport for non-scheduled operations to keep pace with the growing aviation traffic. For this purpose he sought the assistance of ICAO in undertaking feasibility studies and clearances. ICAO has readily agreed to provide the same.
The Secretary General, ICAO also highlighted the issue of machine readable and electronic passports. He said that a large number of countries have upgraded their facilities to E-passports and there was an urgent need for India to upgrade its facilities to be at par with the world standards. ICAO has offered technical assistance to implement the project of conversion of passports to E-passports. The Minister has assured that he would take up the matter with the concerned ministries at the earliest.
The Secretary General also held discussions with Secretary, Civil Aviation, Shri Ashok Chawla, with senior officers of the Ministry, officers of the DGCA, BCAS and AAI. He is expected to visit Delhi Airport and review the ATC and another facilities of the DIAL. He will also visit the NIAMAR Training Institute at Delhi.