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Prime Minister will act to solve air safety concerns

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said last week that he will use his broad power under the interim constitution to speed up all measures necessary to meet concerns raised by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) over lack of capacity in Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation, concerns that had been ignored by previous governments for a decade. 
 
The ICAO, an arm of the United Nations, has not found any safety violations with any of Thailand’s airlines.  As long as 10 years ago, however, the organization advised Thailand’s authorities that the growth of air traffic and the aviation industry in the Kingdom was outstripping the capacity of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), which is the industry regulator in Thailand.
 
Successive governments failed to heed the advice and did little to allocate more funding to the DCA so it could hire more staff, provide more training and keep pace with the relentless growth of the Thai aviation industry.  A decade ago, Thailand had 12 airlines.  Today is has 64 carriers.
 
In January, the ICAO sent staff to assess the DCA and found what they termed to be significant safety issues. Specifically, the ICAO said it was concerned about the DCA’s process of granting air operator certifications and issuing operator specifications.  Commercial airlines need certifications from the DCA to be able to operate in or from Thailand. The organization said that the DCA does not have enough technical officers and its officers have not received enough training.
 
The ICAO ordered the DCA to draft an action plan to address the issues and submit it by March 2.  The Department submitted a plan that would fix all problems in one year.  The ICAO, however, rejected that time frame, insisting that all problems must be addressed within eight months.  Consequently, it informed aviation authorities around the world that Thailand was not meeting its standards.
 
No existing flights from Thailand-based airlines have been affected.  China, Japan, South Korea and some other nations responded by announcing they would not accept any new applications for new flights from Thailand’s airlines.  Existing flights and routes, however, would be honored and unaffected.
 
Late last week, Japan signed an agreement with Thailand to allow charter flights from Thailand to continue through the next two months, saying that Thailand is showing a “serious intent” to fix the problems.  Thai officials are holding similar discussions with Chinese and South Korean authorities.
 
The Prime Minister has responded by saying he will use his power under Section 44 of the interim constitution to take executive action to ensure that all measures required by the ICAO will be taken within the timeframe demanded by the organization.  His power will allow him to streamline funding approvals, legal or staff changes, along with any actions needed to meet the ICAO’s requirements in an expeditious manner.
 
See the original article at Thailand Focus

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