Heed aviation standards or risk a downgrade: IKMAS

Pic By HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

KUALA LUMPUR • Standards and efficiency are critical to the aviation industry and Malaysia may lose between RM6 billion to RM7 billion in economic value if the structure and safety standards remain at the current levels.

Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) Director Prof Sufian Jusoh called on the government and industry players to look at these issues seriously, which could likely lead to a downgrade in the country’ score by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

He said the national aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM), is scheduled to face the ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) assessment in the areas of operations and airworthiness soon, after twice being postponed.

The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) established to ensure compliance to the SARPs will then come out with the score for each area after the audit, Sufian explained.

“There are several changes in Malaysia such as the formation of the CAAM. However, these changes have not taken place fast enough. Even, the signage at the head office in Putrajaya, has it as the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Malaysia.This is an audit fail,” he told Bernama in an interview.

He also pointed out that the Malaysia civil aviation legislation is also outdated and the structure not current to global standards.

The airworthiness sector lacks experienced engineers and pilots to help airlines qualify for the issuance of licenses and approvals, conduct audits and give oversight to the industry and personnel,” he added.

In addition to those problems, the ICAO has published SARPs on Safety Management in Annex 19, requiring each member state to establish a State Safety Programme (SSP).

Malaysia, in accordance with the Malaysia Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 2016, states that the SSP is under the care of the Secretary General of  the Transport Ministry. 

“The SSP requires the Organisation Structure and State Safety Programme Manual. However, from the industry point of view, we have yet to see the SSP Organisation Structure and State Safety Programme Manual.  

“With these issues, can we survive the next ICAO USOAP audit, especially on airworthiness and flight operations,” Sufian questioned.

He said based on current scores, Malaysia has posted an above global average in the area of legislations, organisations, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation and air navigation services, except for aerodromes, which is nearing borderline.

He warned that if the scores dropped below the global average, the ICAO will issue a report with the statement on “Significant Safety Concerns”.

“Once this report is published, the world aviation community is alerted. 

“Some will react by notifying their citizens not to fly with the airlines of a particular country,  cancel flights to it, revoke code sharing flights and impose many other restrictions,” he said.

Upon the report’s reading, two other safety audit programmes, namely the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union (EU) airline blacklist, will also react to this assessment.

A negative review, Sufian said, would result in local airlines likely being banned from flying in European airspace, and categorised as non-complying countries to enter the US under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme.

Sufian said IKMAS is currently doing a study on the impact of a downgrade and it is expected to be completed in the next few months. — Bernama