The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has suspended issuing new Air Operator's Certificates (AOCs) due to a shortage of suitably qualified inspectors. AIN Online cites a confidential source who says that the CAAT is working to train more personnel in order to ensure that regulation and safety standards can be met.
An audit of Thailand's then-Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) – now the
CAAT – carried out in January 2015 by the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) found a number of breaches of safety standards. In
its audit, ICAO scored Thailand less than 50% compliant in all areas
except for 'airworthiness'. Of particular concern was the 'operations'
score, a dismal 10.71%, with ICAO identifying "a significant safety
concern with respect to the ability of this State [Thailand] to properly
oversee its airlines (air operators) under its jurisdiction." Thailand
is one of only eight countries to bear a red flag from ICAO due to air
safety regulation concerns.
As a result of the ICAO audit, the US Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) downgraded Thailand to Category 2 in late 2015. The relegation
meant that Thailand has been unable to introduce any new routes to the
United States. There are currently no direct flights between the two
countries although Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) has alluded to the possibility of resuming flights to the US - either San Francisco, CA or Seattle Tacoma Int'l - at some point.
Since it formed, the CAAT has initiated a series of measures to improve
Thailand's safety record. Procedures were put in place in late 2016 to
restrict the number of start-ups looking to commence operations in the
country, placing greater scrutiny on finances and ownership. The CAAT is
also currently recertifying all twenty-seven existing carriers in
Thailand, divided into four groups: the first group is made up of Thai Airways International; Bangkok Airways; Thai AirAsia, Nok Air, NokScoot, K-Mile Air, and Orient Thai Airlines. The second group comprises Thai Smile, Siam Air, Jet Asia Airways, R Airlines, Asia Atlantic Airlines, Thai VietJetAir, Thai Lion Air, and NewGen Airways. The third group has seven airlines and the fourth group two.
AIN's source has said that one of the airlines undergoing
recertification will shortly have its AOC revoked "due to operational