ICAO removed Thailand's red flag on Oct. 7.jpg Airbus

Thailand Passes ICAO Audit, Looks Toward FAA Upgrade

Thailand makes progress on one safety audit but needs additional work before seeking another FAA audit.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) passed the ICAO safety standard audit earlier this month. According to the Bangkok Post, ICAO mounted a Coordinated Validation Mission to Thailand and gave the CAAT a score of 65.07%, with 60% the passing grade.

According to CAAT chief Chula Sukmanop, ICAO failed Thailand with a score of 34.2% in June 2015, with 33 significant safety concerns (SSC).

The FAA downgraded Thailand to a Category-2 safety rating soon afterward, preventing Thai carriers from operating to the U.S. and entering codeshares with U.S carriers. The FAA again failed the Southeast Asian country in February of this year, identifying 26 shortcomings.

The earlier SSC were addressed by 2017, but improvements were still required in areas such as regulatory mechanism, officer authorization, airside operations, fleet airworthiness, flight services and airport facilities.

Although the ICAO nod is a step toward recertification to FAA Category-1, Sukmanop said there is still work to be done before inviting the FAA to Thailand for a reaudit.

“The CAAT still needs more inspectors to test pilots, especially for the ATR fleet, before inviting the FAA to reassess our score,” he told the Bangkok Post.

There have been no direct air links between the continental U.S. and Thailand since flag carrier Thai Airways suspended its Bangkok-Los Angles route in 2015. However, the competition for service to Thailand is mounting as neighboring Vietnam received the FAA Category-1 safety rating in February 2019 and is planning to begin flights to the U.S. by Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways.

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