CAAM working to meet FAA standards by end-2021

Twenty-eight action plans are set out by a task force to help CAAM obtain the FAA Category 1 status

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) will implement various corrective measures by end-2021 to restore its Category 1 status, including a move to make it an autonomous statutory body.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (picture) told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the move would help make CAAM more financially independent by potentially revising its air navigation facility charges (ANFC). The current ANFC rate is five times less when compared to other countries in the region, Wee said.

The transformation plan is one of 28 action plans set out by a task force established last year to help CAAM obtain the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 status. The FAA downgraded CAAM to Category 2 in November last year, following two audits in April and July. The country had held a Category 1 rating since 2003.

The FAA said CAAM did not meet International Civil Aviation Organisation safety standards, which led to the lowered rating. American airline companies subsequently cancelled their codesharing agreements with local air carriers shortly after the FAA downgrade.

Wee said other corrective measures in the works include finalising new legal documents such as enforcement policies, training CAAM inspectors with international bodies to ensure they are in line with the FAA’s audit requirement, and transforming its management structure.

“The government is also in the process of obtaining consultation services, technical support and external expertise from the FAA via a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The FAA’s guidance and support will help CAAM carry out all the corrective measures in line with the standards set out.

“We expect all the corrective measures to be executed fully by the end of 2021 to enable CAAM’s rating to be restored to Category 1,” he said in response to his predecessor Anthony Loke Siew Fook (Pakatan Harapan-Seremban) who inquired on pre-parations to restore the regulator’s rating.

Some achievements in the last three months, Wee said, can be seen in the increase in the number of flight inspection officers from 30 to 48 personnel as required. As for flight officer inspectors, the figure has more than doubled from nine to 21 personnel.

“This is what we are doing. We have to be vigilant, given the current circumstance, to make sure that we are able to restore CAAM’s rating in the near future,” Wee said.

He added that a merger between CAAM and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) remains on the cards, with negotiations between both parties still ongoing. However, the initial time frame set to consolidate the two entities by the end of this year has been slightly deferred due to the pandemic.

The consolidation of CAAM and Mavcom was mooted to streamline government functions following complaints from the industry that there were too many bureaucracies in Malaysia. The decision, however, was not well-received by Mavcom and the International Aviation Authority (IAA). The IAA said an independent economic regulator was important in providing oversight in the aviation industry.