The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has upgraded Malaysia’s air safety ratings and removed concerns restricting Malaysian airlines from launching new routes to the United States. 

According to a statement, published by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) on October 1, 2022, the FAA has restored the Malaysian regulator's air safety ratings to Category 1 from Category 2. This now places Malaysia within the highest international air safety ratings.  

The recent decision also gives the green light for local air carriers to expand services to new destinations across the US.  

“We are very pleased to share that the FAA has officially announced that Malaysia has regained its Category 1 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating. For this achievement, I applaud everyone at CAAM for their tireless effort and commitment to this success,” Malaysia’s transport minister Wee Ka Siong told BeritaKini. 

“With the return to Category 1, our airlines can now mount new flights to the U.S. and have code sharing with American carriers. There is no more barrier now,” Wee ka Siong added. 

The FAA downgraded CAAM safety ratings to Category 2 in November 2019 after an in-country reassessment of Malaysia under the IASA program in April 2019.  

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After commencing an audit of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) in April 2019, the FAA presented its findings to the Malaysian authorities in July 2019. In the latest developments, Malaysia's IASA rating has been downgraded to Category 2, restricting flight rights to the US of airlines registered in the country.
 

At the time the US regulator argued that CAAM failed to meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, falling short in several areas, including technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and inspection procedures.  

Under the Category 2 rating, the FAA banned Malaysia-based carriers from launching additional services and forming any reciprocal code-sharing arrangements with US airlines. 

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A malfunctioning pitot-static system caused a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft to dive suddenly mid-flight, says the CAAM.    
 

However, the CAAM has been working to improve air safety.

Most recently, on September 13, 2022, the regulator and the Ministry of Transport Malaysia (MOT) launched Malaysia’s State Safety Program (SSP) dedicated to further strengthening safety standards.  

According to CAAM chief executive Chester Voo Chee Soon, the objective of the SSP is to achieve “an acceptable level of safety of aviation services and products delivered by aviation service providers”, including airlines, air navigation service providers, and airport operators, as well as training, and maintenance organizations.  

“Within 15 years, CAAM and MOT will put in place an increasingly effective, robust, and eventually more sophisticated safety oversight system to achieve zero fatalities in scheduled commercial operations,” the CAAM statement reads. “The safety priorities support this aspirational goal which identifies safety-related challenges and the prioritization of areas that require action to enhance safety in Malaysia.” 

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The ATSB published a final investigation report into a case of airspeed indication failure during a Malaysia Airlines flight between Australia and Malaysia.