Thailand’s Transport Minister Prajin Juntong admitted this week that he was not sure that all the necessary steps taken by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to improve aviation safety standards supervision will pass the approval of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Juntong said that authorities concerned were ready to give the explanation to FAA officials and seek more time to make the improvements, according to a report by Thai PBS.
The FAA officials are in Thailand this week to conduct an audit of the country’s aviation oversight. This includes all aspects of Thailand’s Civil Aviation Department such as documentation and the granting of aviation licenses to new carriers. The FAA is also expected to decide whether to downgrade its assessment of Thailand’s safety rating.
A downgrade from Category 1 to Category 2 in the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme would have major ramifications for Thailand’s international airlines, as it would mean they would not be able to add any services to the US or make changes to existing flights. And a potential downgrade could take on even greater significance should other countries decide to follow the downgrade action, similarly restricting Thai carriers.
Air Chief Marshal Prajin said he hoped the Civil Aviation Department’s presentation of report about how it has been dealing with the aviation safety standards shortcomings as observed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and steps taken to address the problem should make FAA officials understand better of the situation.
He admitted that the Civil Aviation Department had not recified all the problems pointed out by ICAO but they are being addressed. The department, he added, has completed the flight operating inspector manual as well as the air operating certification requirement. A seminar was also scheduled so all parties concerned will familiarise themselves with the two sets of documents.
The ICAO formally issued a Serious Safety Concern (SSC) against Thailand in May after the country’s DCA failed to adequately address regulatory oversight shortcomings identified during a Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) inspection in January.