Thailand aviation industry will be ready for ICAO re-audit by September

Published on : Friday, June 26, 2015

airplane-perfectThailand should be ready for a re-audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on safety standards by September or October, Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has said.



Meanwhile, a European Commission press release yesterday said that it has updated the EU Air Safety List, which includes airlines that are subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. All airlines from the Philippines, banned since 2010, have been removed from the list and can therefore return to European airspace. No new bans have been imposed in this update.



Arkhom, who visited ICAO’s headquarters earlier this month, told The Nation that the re-auditing process would begin once all 28 airlines registered in Thailand have been re-certified by Thai authorities.



The ICAO should remove the red flag against Thailand on its website once the aviation authorities pass the re-audit. The red flag has raised significant safety concerns in relation to the Thai airline industry.



Arkhom said the corrective action plan approved by the ICAO includes improving air-operator certification requirements and Flight Operation Inspector Manuals, which are now 95-per-cent complete.



Next week, a hearing will be held on airlines’ opinions on the updated manuals, which should be applied to all airlines shortly after.



The next step would be the training of and recruitment of more licensed inspectors, whose numbers will be increased from 11 to 48 to meet the rising number of airlines operating here. The inspectors’ work will be based on the new manuals, which will help meet Thailand’s fast-growing aviation industry meet ICAO safety standards.



Rapid growth over recent decades has resulted in major safety concerns owing to the country’s inability to expand its regulatory and other capabilities.



So far, the planned Thai AirAsia X flight from Bangkok to Sapporo is the only one hit by the ICAO red flag.



Thai Airways International and other airlines have remained unaffected, while European and US aviation authorities have yet to announce any measures on Thai carriers.



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will send a team of officials to Thailand from July 13 to 17.



Arkhom said the Transport Ministry would also reorganise the Department of Civil Aviation into four separate agencies responsible for different roles as regulator/licensing, air-accident investigation, rescue work, etc.



He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha might exercise his absolute power under the interim charter’s Article 44 to speed up the reorganisation process.

On June 18, ICAO publicly red-flagged Thailand citing significant safety concerns after notifying aviation officials in February of issues that have to be corrected. Thailand was given 90 days to correct the issues.

Arkhom said the red flag was not made public in February, but it became public after Thai authorities missed a 90-day deadline to fix these issues.



At present, 12 other countries are also red-flagged by the ICAO, including Angola, Botswana, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Nepal and Uruguay.



Meanwhile, Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong yesterday instructed the Civil Aviation Department to brace for an impact if the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) moved some reaction over Thai aviation.



EASA, which has been investigating Thai aviation safety standards since the ICAO audit, was reportedly expected to announce its findings yesterday.

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