As of Monday, November 11th, Asia is now the region with the most airlines barred from the United States airspace after the FAA downgraded Malaysia’s aviation authority. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reduced the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to a Category 2 rating, meaning the nation‘s aviation safety is “deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and/or inspection procedures.” Our aviation crew at the Sheffield School of Aeronautics break down how the FAA downgraded Malaysia’s aviation authority.
U.S. Parameters for Malaysia
The newly assigned rating bans Malaysian carriers from code-sharing with other U.S. carriers and entering the U.S. airspace between San Francisco and New York, with the exception of AirAsia X Bhd, which only has the authorized route from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu, via Osaka, Japan. Malaysia is now the third Asian country with such a low aviation safety rating, after Bangladesh and Thailand. Costa Rica, Curacao, Bangladesh, and Ghana are also listed as Category 2 markets.
The FAA referenced the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) safety standards to conduct its evaluation for the CAAM, not specific airlines. The IASA has been used to ban flights from India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, however, those nations have earned a Category 1 rating in recent years.
A State Under Category 2
The CAAM said in a statement it regretted the outcome of an FAA review back in April but requested that the U.S. agency reassess its aviation safety within the next year. The Malaysian commercial organization added, “plans are already well underway to address the findings of the audit”  with the hopes of restoring its Category 1 rating.
Two tragic events that could have been the reasons why the FAA downgraded Malaysia’s aviation authority were the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the attack of another flight over Ukraine. Both incidents have negatively impacted the public’s perception of Malaysian airlines and the ability of local pilots and engineers to find aviation jobs overseas. However, at an event in Jakarta on Tuesday, Malaysia’s deputy finance minister, Amiruddin Hamzah, said that the low rating will be looked into, but it’s unlikely to affect tourism as well as the rising numbers traveling to Malaysia for medical treatment.
 Federal Aviation Administration – Press Release – FAA Announces Results of International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) for the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia
 Reuters – U.S. FAA downgrades Malaysia’s air safety rating