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Civil Aviation Minister Mr. Praful Patel's visit to Washington, DC

Washington, DC
June 22, 2007 

On June 22, 2007, Mr. Praful Patel, Minister of Civil Aviation, Government of India, Ms. Mary E. Peters, Secretary of Transportation, and Ms. Leocadia I. Zak, Acting Director of the US Trade Development Agency (USTDA) signed an MoU to establish the India-US Aviation Cooperation Programme (ACP). The ACP is a public-private partnership between the Minsitry of Civil Aviation of India, the USTDA, the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) and US aviation companies to strengthen bilateral cooperation for developing and modernizing India’s civil aviation infrastructure in the managerial, operational and technical areas. Through the ACP, the partners would work together to promote enhanced safety, technical efficiency and system capacity and to facilitate and coordinate training and technical ties. USTDA would provide funding for training and technical assistance programmes with matching funds from the US aviation industry and in-kind support from FAA.

Prior to the signing, Minister Patel and US Secretary of Transportation ort discussed issues of common interest, which would enable the two countries to take their collaboration in the area of civil aviation to new heights. Secretary Peters underlined that cooperation in this sector between the two democracies would enhance freedom of people to travel between the two countries. Minister Patel noted that US is the only country which India has signed an ‘Open Skies Agreement’; indicative of the special and strategic partnership. He welcomed US cooperation to make air travel in India safer, more efficient and better connected and said that this would help India build a world-class aviation system. He thanked the Government of US for its “partnership on the historic journey to the skies”. He invited Secretary Peters to visit India.

In the afternoon of June 22, the Minister visited the Air Traffic System Command Centre at Dulles and was given an useful overview of the capacity that United States has developed in the critical area of airspace management. Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transport, Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett accompanied the Minister on his visit.

Earlier, on June 21, the Minister had a two-hour interactive session with representatives from a wide cross-section of the US aviation industry at a round-table organized by the US-India Business Council. In his remarks on the occasion, Ambassador Sen pointed to the flourishing bilateral business ties, evident in the rapid increase in the number of business visas that the Embassy was issuing. He said that civil aviation was a key area in the bilateral relationship – for its tremendous commercial potential as well as for its role in promoting people-to-people ties. Minister Patel underscored Government of India’s determination to remove all infrastructure-related bottlenecks, including in civil aviation. The Vision 2020 for this sector envisaged the development of a network of airline hubs, greenfield airports and cargo facilities which would connect the whole country, nationally as well as internationally. He touched on the concept of “merchant airports” which the Ministry of Civil Aviation was developing for private investment. He urged American companies to seize the opportunities offered by airport infrastructure development and associated intra-modal & commercial activities, adding that 100% FDI was allowed in this area. There was also excellent potential for collaboration in aviation support services including Repair and Maintenance Operations (RMO) and training.