FAA Once Again Downgrades Thailand’s Aviation Sector To Category 2 Following New Safety Concerns

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating the Thai aviation sector and found ample reasons – 26 in total – to downgrade the countries rating again.

This is the second time this has happened and Thailand had regained it’s Tier 1 certification, not too long ago in late 2017, after overhauling it’s aviation sector to satisfy the requirements.

This doesn’t mean that it would be unsafe to fly on Thailand based airlines such as Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, NOK Air, Thai AirAsia etc. It merely means that the local authority overseeing the sector is simply not up to the task and that the countries airports might lack safety standards.

The matter had been reported on AIN Online (access here) but no official sources are available at this time.

… According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), the FAA conducted an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) technical review from February 11 to 15 to assess the country’s ability to comply with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The FAA contingent, led by team leader Benjamin Garrido and four team members, identified 26 safety issues. The Thai authorities did not elaborate on the findings but said they have already begun addressing many of the shortcomings.

While Thai officials express optimism that the country can regain Category 1 status after its next inspection, numerous audits in recent years have raised a number of problems, particularly concerning regulatory oversight, the award of new air operator certificates (AOC), pilot qualifications, and a shortage of qualified staff. In June 2015, ICAO flagged the country with a Significant Safety Concern (SSC) label for failing to maintain international standards. Two months later, the FAA downgraded Thailand to Category 2 over similar concerns.

ICAO lifted the red flag against Thailand in 2017, paving the way for Thai carriers to expand their international networks; however, the FAA downgrade remains in place. Since then, the CAAT has devised a series of aviation master plans and made several revisions to its procedures for granting AOCs. …

I have sent a request via email to the CAAT, FAA and ICAO to include their response to this matter at a later time. I’m quite surprised there isn’t any official press release yet. It would be beneficial to learn details about the criticism the FAA had.

The CAAT is a new agency that was born after reforming their predecessor and revamping the Thai aviation system after the 2015-2017 debacle. Strange that not even two years after Thailand regained their Tier 1 certification things went downhill again to the point where a rating downgrade is warranted.

On the other hand, it would probably be worthwhile to have a look at the U.S. aviation sector as well considering the TSA has ongoing security lapses, even letting passengers embark aircraft with a loaded firearm, staff walkouts and U.S. air traffic controllers operating under increased stress while not being paid during government shutdowns. Don’t hold your breath about that happening though.

Conclusion

This simply means that Thailand based airlines are not allowed to open new routes to the United States and that the US based airlines are not allowed to place codeshare numbers to flights operated by Thailand based airlines.

It’s possible that the EU will follow these recommendations as well, placing restrictions on Thai carriers which may find difficulty opening new routes and some countries may limit flights operated by airlines based on the country.

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