Boeing works with Vietnam to improve aviation safety for non-stop flights to US

By Ngan Anh   February 8, 2018 | 04:45 pm GMT+7
Boeing works with Vietnam to improve aviation safety for non-stop flights to US
Vietnam Airlines hopes to open non-stop flights to the U.S. in 2019 or 2020. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnam's current safety rating falls short of the requirements needed to launch direct routes to the U.S.

Aircraft giant Boeing is working with the U.S. and Vietnamese governments to improve the Southeast Asian nation’s aviation safety rating and help enable its state-run carrier to launch direct flights between the two countries, according to a company executive.

“Right now, they don’t have Category 1 (CAT1),” Bloomberg quoted Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Boeing’s Asia Pacific and India sales, as saying, referring to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s rating system. “So we are working with the Vietnamese government and the U.S. government to open that up.”

Vietnam has a Category 2 ranking, which means its safety processes fall short, and the FAA is reviewing it.

The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam said it currently follows standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, but in order to earn the CAT1 it has to make certain improvements, including completing a new set of regulations, ensuring a sufficient number of staff and improving its supervisory capacity.

Vietnam Airlines hopes to open non-stop flights to the U.S. in 2019 or 2020. San Francisco and Los Angeles are two destinations being considered.

The carrier has signed a preliminary agreement with Boeing to buy its widebody 777-8 jets, but a final order would depend on the country getting the upgrade, Keskar said, adding any airline needs to be sure of routes before placing large aircraft orders.

“The investment is big and you should be able to fill that airplane,” Keskar said. “We feel optimistic that this year will get them the Category 1.”

Vietnam and the U.S. signed an air transport agreement in 2003 to allow airlines to operate direct flights between the two countries.

In 2004, Vietnam Airlines sought permission from the U.S. to provide direct services, but the request was denied because the CAAV did not meet the safety supervision requirements set by the FAA.

The airline said it has reapplied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch direct flights.

In addition to strict legal requirements, a shortage of aircraft eligible to operate direct flights to the U.S. could also cause delays.

“Vietnam Airlines does not have any airplanes that are currently eligible to fly direct to the U.S.,” Duong Tri Thanh, CEO of Vietnam Airlines, said.

Vietnam Airlines currently operates seven flights per week to cities in the U.S. under codeshare agreements with foreign carriers.

The U.S. is the fourth largest source of foreign visitors to Vietnam, with more than 614,000 arriving in 2017, up 11 percent from the previous year, according to the General Statistics Office.

 
 
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