Prajin: No idea when DCA able to meet ICAO safety standards
published : 22 Jun 2015 at 21:43
writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
Transport Minister Prajin Juntong admitted on Monday he had no idea when the Department of Civil Aviation would be able to comply with the air safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
After meeting with concerned authorities on solutions to the ICAO's "significant safety concerns" Monday evening, ACM Prajin said the DCA still didn't have a plan on how to address the issues raised by the UN regulatory body.
He said he ordered the department to figure it out by Thursday.
The ICAO "red-flagged" Thailand on Thursday after the DCA failed to meet a 90-day deadline to correct shortcomings in aviation-certification standards identified in a January audit.
The failed audit raised doubts about the safe operation of 28 Thai airlines certified by the DCA. The key to resolving the ICAO's safety concerns will be the recertification of those carriers.
The transport minister said on Monday that there were three major obstacles to recertification by the DCA.
First, the department must complete its handbook for air-safety checks. Second, it must recruit enough qualified personnel to undertake the checks and, third, it has to work out a plan to train its current personnel up to the ICAO's standards.
"Regarding the timeframe for recertification of the 28 airlines, I cannot tell you when it will begin," ACM Prajin said. "We must wait for the plan on personnel, the handbook and the training. I admit that we have several types of battles."
The DCA needed 13 qualified professionals to resolve the safety concerns, but it hired only five. It will have to hasten recruitment, the minister acknowledged.
He confirmed that the European Aviation Safety Agency would announce its reaction to the ICAO red flag Thursday and the US Federal Aviation Administration would spend five days auditing the DCA in mid-July.
The FAA's decision will be a critical one. In the past decade, no international action was taken against red-flagged Philippine and Indonesian airlines until after the FAA downgraded those countries from its problem-free Category 1 to troubled Category 2. Once that happened, aviation agencies around the world followed suit in banning airlines from those countries from their airspace.
If the FAA fails Thailand in its audit, it will give the DCA 65 days to make corrections. Failure to meet the deadline will result in the FAA downgrading the country to Category 2, ACM Prajin said.