Malaysia is once again in global spotlight, the latest round of documentaries on MH370. Like all Malaysians, I too was affected by the tragedy. I believe we should do what we can to determine the cause of the disappearance but until the cockpit voice and data recorders or physical evidence are found any conclusion remains in the realms on conjecture.

The question is, what should be done moving forward? Taking a step back to see the broader canvas there is one theme that runs deep which should be the focus. Improving the safety and regulatory infrastructure of Malaysia’s aviation sector. To achieve this important goal the resources including the talent required to solve issues within this complex ecosystem need to be brought to bear.

Malaysians have always had an affinity and some cases a love affair with the airline industry. A key component of our national’s identity has drawn on our pride in our national carrier who for many years won award after award. Of late, nation has successfully rolled out a business model in the low-cost sector which is the envy of similar category of carriers around the world. Yet there is the untold story of the positive impact that these airlines have had on the economy, especially the tourism sector and based on last recorded government figures there was 4.8 million passengers arrival by air for H1 2019. Many hotels and resort operators owe their fortunes to hard work of these airlines.

Turbulence, in the form of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgrading of Malaysia to
category two (2) country is likely to have adverse and immediate impact on the airlines and economic impact it brings to the economy.

Based on MAVCOM’s own report issued on February 2020, “The Economic Impact and
Implications of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia’s Rating Downgrade”, the country’s
carriers could see an annual revenue at risk of as much as RM4 billion.

This is a concerning trend, Malaysia’s aviation industry runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in the global aviation value chain, due in a large part because of safety issues. Regulators must avoid is the potential crisis of further downgrades as the FAA can easily be the first domino that will trigger other regulators in other countries.

This was not always the case, Malaysia was once known as the best Boeing 737 maintenance operations outside the United States in the 80s and 90s. Today, according to a Frost & Sullivan report, the global MRO business is worth USD82 billion and expected to climb to nearly USD100 billion by 2025. A slice of this global pie would generate much needed jobs and investment for the local economy.

Moving forward, our strategy must be ‘safety’ is the door that we have to go through to seize the global opportunities in the aviation industry. Therefore, it is imperative the Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) and its direct stakeholders view this crisis as an opportunity to review current policies, regulations and communications framework to promote effective and efficient regulation of civil aviation to support a dynamic aviation sector.

Global consumers require not just excellent service but a strong safety record. One key ideais to implement a multi-stakeholder approach; whereby Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, CAAM and our Airlines to collaborate and corroborate in a broad spectrum of matters besides regulations such as in crisis in the planning flight plans over conflict zones and COVID-19 virus that have paralyzed the global commercial aviation economy.

Many countries are currently undertaking a review and structural reforms of regulations, laws and other key components as to support and enhance capable and effective regulatory
oversight of the civil aviation system. The proactive approach to create an updated playbook is to cater a myriad of new variables and foresight of scenarios to increase preparedness levels and eventualities.

One of the key components of the reform is to create a formidable, sustainable and dynamic future for safeguard the aviation regulatory sector, is to train, certify and position the right talents empowered to make a difference with an industry competitive compensation package and sound career pathway. The people in aviation regulation are extremely specialised and requires tacit knowledge and experience for capabilities and competencies to be developed and shaped.

The reform of the Malaysian aviation regulators is to assure that there is never again a trust deficit. The authority which holds this important trusteeship with all the stakeholders, it is a high ground that must never be lost. The CAAM serves as the unifying factor, its ability to communicate with all stakeholders to design a sustainable future for our aviation industry.The time is now and opportunity is for CAAM to change its way of doing business and become an organisation that can stand as equals with the best on a global stage.

Rizal Kamaruzzaman
Executive Director
Tindakan Strategi Sdn Bhd


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