Region VII: Middle East/Asia (MID)

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New U.S.-India Aviation Agreement Could Unleash Regional Potential

August 1, 2011

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For the aviation industry, India holds many opportunities. The country is home to the world’s second-largest population. Even in the midst of a struggling worldwide economy, India’s gross domestic product is expected to climb 8.2 percent this year – on top of last year’s 9.7 percent growth rate.

At the same time, India at the moment has virtually no infrastructure for business aviation. But because of its rapid economic growth, government officials predict India’s general aviation sector will grow by 25-percent for each of the next ten years.

Last month, India and the U.S. signed a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement, establishing an official relationship between the two countries on matters of aviation technology and development.

“This allows us to market our technology in the U.S., and for American companies to market their technologies in India,” said Arjun Singh, director of India’s Aviation Cooperation Program. That government-to-government and business-to-business organization is a major platform for communication between both countries.

“One avenue of this agreement is our ability now to work with the Indian government and to establish their level of confidence in certifying aeronautical products so that we can take advantage of the work they do and accept products into the U.S.,” Peggy Gilligan, Federal Aviation Administration Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, observed. “Equally – maybe more – important for our industry it allows the government of India to accept U.S.-certified products without further evaluation by the Indian government.”

In other words, certification of aviation technology and products by one country virtually constitutes certification by both.

A major area of cooperation under this new agreement and several others recently signed between the US and India is in airport development.

“Through ACP, we are trying to build up the base, how to build up the regulations and make the rules for GA,” Singh said. “American companies can come and teach Indian companies how to build airports and technology, and then they’ll get Indian government approval to build them.”

New airports in India will benefit from the latest technology, many built from the ground-up to take advantage of NextGen systems being developed in the United States, said Gilligan.

“In fact, India already has underway its equivalent of the WAAS system that we have here in the U.S.,” she noted. “It will be interoperable with the WAAS system in the U.S., as well as similar systems around the world. Here again, [India] is benefiting from our experience and our technical capabilities. We see the market in India opening up broadly now for aircraft products as well as for NextGen and other aeronautical technologies.”