At a function marking Air India's launch of a new route between Washington DC and New Delhi, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said that in the last round of the Federal Aviation Authority's safety audits, “They have rated India pretty good… and it ranks amongst the better countries governing technical standards worldwide…so to that extent we have a very good engagement with them.”

During his visit to the U.S., Mr. Patel held meetings with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt.

Mr. Patel further said he discussed with U.S. officials India's shift to GPS or satellite-based navigation systems, moving away from land-based systems that are in use at present. “That will shorten our air routes,” Mr. Patel explained, adding, “In a time when there a numerous environmental concerns such as global warming, we need to have shorter air routes and more efficient aircraft.” He said the GPS systems would be in place by “next year.”

On the delay by Boeing in delivering its 787 aircraft, Mr. Patel said: “Boeing is going to be paying compensation to India for the delay of the 787 [delivery]. The overall transaction with Boeing is for 68 planes; of these, 27 planes – which are 787s – are delayed definitely by a year and a half, so Boeing will be paying compensation for that.”

On the financial problems at Air India, Mr. Patel said: “Air India ran into a really rough patch due to the 2008 oil prices and also the recession and the slowdown in air travel, even in India. This also applied to other private carriers, Kingfisher and Jet included,” he said. Denying that the government gave Air India a bailout, he clarified that it was given a government equity infusion of Rs. 800 crore and during the financial year 2010-11 it would get another infusion of Rs.1,200 crore.

Finally Mr. Patel said that in discussions with U.S. officials he had brought up India's view on the need to reduce export restrictions for dual use technology from the U.S.

“The U.S. must be a little more forthcoming on [India's] use of dual use technology,” he said.

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