Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has suspended issuing new Air Operator's Certificates (AOCs) due to a shortage of suitably qualified inspectors

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 problems".

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