Thai aviation: The Beginning of a new regime…?
Almost four years since Thai DCA was issued significant safety concerns SSC by ICAO, the Thailand regulator now the CAAT, has lifted itself up from quite a low place, Under policies from the transport industry it is beginning a new regime: to be a regulatory service provider.
It has not been an easy road thus far, large amounts of cash spent on upgrading the structure, law and processes. Different groups came and went, hundreds of thousands of hours of training scheduled, large amounts of budget spent, much of it on new authority staff and regulators, new equipment, processes and regulations. The biggest challenges now are resources and manpower, maintaining the required skills that are on low salary scales compared with private industry.
Now it seems the regulator industry is waking up to the realization that there is a lot of catching up to do. The CAAT are opening the implementation of regulations by the industry itself. They are allowing industry to comply with ICAO without the previous validation of everything by DCA persons. Take implementation of MRO 145 Maintenance organization regulations, licensing of Engineers and technicians. Thai airways was granted several CAAT/ICAO compliant MRO 145 repair & certificate approvals based on training & exchange of manpower and authorizations handed down from the supplier OEM such as Boeing or Rolls Royce.
Previous lack of modern regulation, processes or approvals restricted the industry from being competitive. Not so long ago, to approve a repair or STC, a fair sized contingent of DCA inspectors would have to arrange a trip to Rolls Royce engine factory, so they could approve the manufacturers processes for a Thai airline repair or maintenance procedure.
It is a long way from perfect, there are still tremendously slow responses to industry requirements, but the acceptance of international standards (foreign) standards in maintenance, operations, procedures and training is becoming apparent. ICAO certificates, approvals and licenses for conversion, validation and training are accepted into regulation, in practice they still encounter resistance amongst the wider industry.
A famous oriental philosopher once said ‘’The first step to improvement, is through self -realization’’ 2015 Effective implementation of ICAO SARPS was 34%. This was proportional to an industry that could not sustain itself. Many startups were quickly followed by bankruptcy, millions lost in revenues from poor infrastructure, operational restrictions, from overseas findings, little investment, no availability of financing or leasing for newer aircraft. Several countries sought an outright black listing of Thailand which would have seen industry reduced to domestic and regional operations. Here’s the score:
The Future of a successful airline industry is globalization, crossing cultures, continents and ideals to appeal to the greater travelling public and its own group of empowered employees. The CAAT have engaged with the world to raise their standards, which will improve the ability of Thai airlines to compete on the world stage. Aviation is to engage internationally and compete with markets and cultures that may be beyond our skills or experience. To be a truly a successful airline, is to know the world around it, always expanding extending business beyond the current limitations.
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