Unfortunately, Thailand failed an FAA audit this month and is unable to regain its Category 1 FAA rating at this time. Thailand lost its Category 1 FAA safety rating in 2015 and is trying to get it back.
What is the FAA safety rating?
The FAA safety rating is issued as part of the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. This program assesses “a country’s ability, not the ability of individual air carriers, to adhere to international aviation safety standards and recommended practices” established by ICAO.
The safety rating is important for Thailand. After all, without a Category 1 rating, Thai airlines cannot fly to the United States or enter codeshare agreements with U.S. air carriers.
Why is Thailand not able to regain its Category 1 FAA rating?
The FAA conducted an International Aviation Safety Assessment audit in Thailand from February 11th to the 15th. This audit revealed as many as 26 findings. Reportedly, Thai authorities have indicated that they are working on addressing the findings hoping that they will finally get back the rating after the next inspection.
Nonetheless, 26 is no small number, and demonstrates that Thailand still has a way to go.
In 2015, an audit conducted by ICAO revealed numerous safety concerns. At this time, ICAO red-flagged Thailand. Shortly thereafter, the FAA updated Thailand’s status to Category 2 due to the same issues. Consequently, Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation split into two separate agencies forming the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and the Department of Airports.
In 2017, ICAO removed Thailand’s red flag. The FAA, however, kept Thailand’s Category 2 status.
Which other countries have a Category 2 rating?
In addition to Thailand, there are only three countries that do not have a Category 1 rating. According to information provided by the FAA, they are Bangladesh, Curacao, and Ghana. (The list only includes countries that have provided flights to the United States or had code-share agreements with U.S. air carriers within the last four years or had “significant interaction with the FAA.”)
The FAA just granted the Category 1 rating to Vietnam earlier this month. Nonetheless, three Vietnamese airlines, Bamboo Airways, VietJet, and Vietnam Airlines, have already expressed interest in offering flights to the United States. As a matter of fact, Bamboo Airways is planning on launching flights to the United States as early as late this year or early next year.
We are not sure if Thai Airways would actually like to offer flights to the United States in the near future, or if Thailand just wants to regain the safety rating. Thai Airways has mentioned in the past that it would like to fly to the United States again.
Anyhow, it looks like Thailand has quite a bit of work to do before it will pass the FAA assessment and regain its Category 1 safety rating.
What are your thoughts on Thailand’s failed FAA safety assessment?