The decision was highly predictable but it has been now confirmed. The US Federal Aviation Administration, which looks at airlines safety standards -both domestic and international-, officially announced yesterday that “the Kingdom of Thailand does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards and has been assigned a Category 2 rating based on a reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority”.
Category 2 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating means that the country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its civil aviation authority – a body equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures. With a Category 2 rating, Thailand’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States. They will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.
Thailand was assigned an initial Category 2 rating in 1996 and received a Category 1 rating in 1997. Reassessments of Thailand in 2001 and 2008 continued the Category 1 rating. A reassessment in July 2015 found that Thailand did not meet international standards. Today’s announcement follows ongoing discussions with the government of Thailand which concluded on October 28.
The FAA previously downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 and imposed a complete flight ban on its airlines. In ASEAN, the European Aviation Safety Agency banned a few years ago all Indonesia air carriers to fly to the EU. EASA is also due to deliver a report on Thailand air safety by the middle of the month. EASA conclusions will be of ultimate importance to Thailand civil aviation as Thai Airways flies to 11 cities of the European Union. Any restriction would not only affect passengers traffic pattern but also damage the country’s aviation reputation.
Last March, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) identified a significant safety concern with respect to the ability of Thailand to properly oversee its airlines (air operators) under its jurisdiction.
Thai Airways International has already indicated not to be affected by the FAA decision. The airline stopped flying to Los Angeles last October.