Following the Federal Aviation Association (FAA)’s downgrade of Thailand’s aviation authority from Category 1 to 2. The European equivalent European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has also ruled on Thailand aviation’s standing.
Following a safety audit, all international aviation agencies they were monitoring Thai aviation authority’s ongoing efforts to remediate the findings noted. FAA ultimately decided that it will downgrade the authority to Category 2 (News – December 2, 2015)
Shortly after that announcement, EASA announced it will not make the same decision for the time being while the European Commission (EC) warned that it may consider listing individual airlines on the EU blacklist if improvements are not made on a timely basis.
“No air carriers from Thailand were added to the Air Safety List at this time,” said the EC in a statement. “The EC and EASA will however closely monitor future developments and, if the protection of air passengers against safety risks so requires, the Commission could then propose to include one or more air carriers from Thailand in the Air Safety List.”
This is great news for Thailand aviation as its biggest airline Thai Airways International which has a significant long haul network to Europe (while it has no presence in North America – News – July 23, 2015). Should the aviation authority gets downgraded, it would have a significant impact to this and others that want to expand into the region.
Thai Airways International starts Airbus A350-900s delivery in 2016-17. It will use the more efficient widebody aircrafts to replace older Boeing 777s and Airbus 340s currently in operations. The A350-900s will likely feature refreshed business, premium economy and economy cabins with around 250 to 275 seats.
Thailand aviation authority has around 6-12 months to refine its safety processes in order to meet the safety audit’s requirements. While there is an urgency to fix problems as quickly as possible, it is better for the agency to work on improving quality than ask ICAO to return for a re-assessment immediately.