The International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme was established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determines whether another country’s oversight of its air carriers that operate, or seek to operate, into the U.S., or codeshare with a U.S. air carrier, complies with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The IASA programme originated in 1992 as an attempt to appreciate a country's ability to adhere to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices for aircraft operations and maintenance. The regulatory authorities in any sovereign country are obliged under the Chicago Convention to exercise regulatory oversight over air carriers within the state.
IASA Process Overview
An operator of a sovereign state desiring to conduct foreign air transportation operations into the United States must file an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign air carrier permit under the Federal Aviation Act, newly recodified at 49 U.S.C. 41302. Consistent with international law, certain safety requirements for operations into the United States are prescribed by the FAA's Part 129 regulations (14 CFR part 129). 14 CFR Part 129 specifies that the carrier must meet the safety standards contained in Part 1 (International Commercial Air Transport) of Annex 6 (Operations of Aircraft) to the Chicago Convention.
Before DOT issues a foreign air carrier permit, it notifies the FAA of the application and requests the FAA's evaluation of the respective CAA's capability for providing safety certification and continuing oversight for its international carriers.
Upon DOT notification of a pending foreign air carrier application, if the FAA has not made a positive assessment of that country's safety oversight capabilities, the FAA Flight Standards Service will direct its appropriate international field office to schedule an FAA assessment visit to the CAA of the applicant's country. Once the assessments visits have been completed, the FAA assessment team will return to the United States to compile their findings. Appropriate notifications to the CAA and other U.S. Government officials of the results of the assessments are made as soon as possible.
If a CAA is found to meet its minimum safety obligations under the Chicago Convention, the FAA will forward a positive recommendation to DOT and FAA will issue operations specifications to permit the carrier to begin operations to or from the United States.
When CAA's of countries with existing air carrier service to the U.S. are found to not meet ICAO standards, the FAA formally requests consultations with the CAA. The purpose of consultations is to discuss the findings in some detail and explore means to quickly rectify shortcomings found with regard to ICAO Annexes, to enable its air carriers to continue service to the United States. During the consultation phase, foreign air carrier operations from that country into the United States are contained at existing levels. Additionally, the FAA may also heighten its surveillance inspections (ramp checks) on these carriers while they are in the United States. If the deficiencies noted during consultations cannot be successfully corrected within a reasonable, period of time, FAA will notify DOT that operators from that country do not have an acceptable level of safety oversight and will recommend that DOT revoke or suspend its carriers economic operating authority.
The FAA established two categories of ratings for countries to signify the status of a CAA's compliance with minimum international safety standards:
- Category I -- FAA has found that the country meets ICAO standards for safety oversight of civil aviation, or
- Category II -- FAA has found that the country does not meet those standards.
Carriers from Category 1 countries are permitted to operate into the U.S. and/or codeshare with U.S. air carriers in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) authorizations.
Carriers from Category 2 countries that operate into the U.S. and/or codeshare with U.S. air carriers have such services limited to levels that existed at the time of the assessment.
Carriers from Category 2 countries that seek to initiate commercial service into the U.S. and/or seek to codeshare with any U.S. air carrier are prohibited from initiating such services.
Deficiencies found in FAA assessments typically fall into these major categories:
- Lack of advisory documentation;
- Shortage of experienced airworthiness staff;
- Lack of control on important airworthiness related items such as issuance and enforcement of Airworthiness Directives, Minimum Equipment Lists, investigation of Service Difficulty Reports, etc.;
- Lack of adequate technical data;
- Absence of Air Operator Certification (AOC) systems,
- Nonconformance to the requirements of the AOC System
- Lack or shortage of adequately trained flight operations inspectors including a lack of type ratings;
- Lack of updated company manuals for the use by airmen;
- Inadequate proficiency check procedures; and
- Inadequately trained cabin attendants.