Will Thai International be stretched by the pressure of ICAO issues?

Safety regulators in Australia and Singapore have now joined Japan and South Korea in increasing their scrutiny of Thai flag carriers following an ICAO audit that raised questions about air safety regulation in Thailand.

This is what the Australian regulator CASA said this afternoon.

CASA is aware of the issues raised by the International Civil Aviation Organization in relation to Thailand.

CASA has contacted the Thai aviation safety regulator requesting further detailed information.

Thai Airways is the only airline from Thailand regularly operating into Australia.  CASA is making contact with Thai Airways in relation to these issues.

CASA has increased the number of ramp inspections of Thai Airways flights operating into Australia.  These inspections look at the condition of aircraft as well as flight and aircraft documentation.

At this stage CASA has not placed any additional restrictions on Thai Airways flights to and from Australia.  This is subject to the results of increased surveillance and any additional information that may be provided by Thai Airways and the Thai air safety regulator.

Any request for additional flights by Thai Airways or changes to their currently approved operations will be considered in the light of the issues raised by the International Civil Aviation Organization and CASA’s surveillance and safety checks.

A more strongly worded statement was made by Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority this morning.

In response to media queries on Singapore’s actions following the ICAO safety oversight audit on Thailand, a spokesperson from CAAS said that the safety of air transport and the travelling public is paramount. With the outcome of the recent ICAO safety oversight audit on Thailand, CAAS has stepped up its surveillance and ramp inspections of Thai carriers’ aircraft operations in Singapore. Thus far, we have not imposed any restrictions on Thai carriers.

CAAS has in a place a Foreign Operators Surveillance Programme (FOSP). Under the FOSP, foreign carriers are required to have an Operations Permit from CAAS to operate in Singapore. CAAS evaluates an application for an Operations Permit using a risk-based methodology, taking into consideration factors, such as the safety oversight capability of the State of Operator (which grants an Air Operator Certificate to the carrier) and/or the State of Registry (where the aircraft is registered), the operational capability of the carrier, and the safety records of the aircraft and aircraft type to be deployed for the operations. In assessing a foreign carrier’s operations, CAAS takes into consideration safety information from other aviation authorities including the outcomes of the inspections/audits they conduct. CAAS also conducts periodic ramp inspections on the foreign carrier’s aircraft when they are in Singapore; the frequency of which is dependent on CAAS’ assessment of the carrier. Any major deficiencies found in the ramp inspections have to be addressed by the carrier for it to continue operations in Singapore.

CAAS will closely monitor developments and consider further measures, as necessary, to ensure that safety is not compromised.

The bolded section of the CAAS statement moves Singapore closer to the direct action already taken by South Korea and Japan which have refused additional holiday charter flights by Thai carriers this month.

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