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Kuala Lumpur vows change after FAA downgrade

Malaysia’s civil aviation authority has requested a reassessment from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), as it vows to make “serious changes” to address apparent shortcomings.

The move comes as the FAA downgraded the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to Category 2, following an audit in April. The country has held a Category 1 rating since 2003.

The lowered rating means that CAAM does not meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards, the FAA says.

“[The CAAM] is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and/or inspection procedures”, adds the FAA. Consequently, Malaysia’s carriers will not be able to start new services into the United States.

Both the CAAM and FAA stress that the rating was not of Malaysia’s airlines, but of the CAAM itself. The FAA adds that Malaysian carriers can continue existing services into the US. At present, only AirAsia X flies daily to Honolulu from Kuala Lumpur, via Osaka Kansai.

The CAAM, in a prepared statement, expressed its regret about being downgraded.

“Whilst CAAM acknowledges that in carrying out its duties as an aviation regulator, some shortcomings exist," says CAAM chairman Captain Ahmad Ridzwan Mohd Salleh. "We wish to emphasise that the assessment only covered CAAM's role as an aviation regulator."

The CAAM says that the FAA’s assessment was "solus and unilateral," but within its rights as an ICAO member state.

It has asked the FAA to reassess its operations within the next 12 months, with the intention of having its Category 1 status restored.

The CAAM will make changes in light of the FAA’s assessment. The authority’s chief executive resigned on 1 November, and an executive committee has been set up to oversee operations.

Malaysia now joins countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand and Ghana in Category 2, following its downgrade.

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