Thai Aviation Industry Is On Significant Safety Concerns Alert

Bangkok International Airport

Significant Safety Concerns

(This post was originally posted on March 30, 2015 with updates on June 18, 2015 to highlight the red flag issued by the ICAO).

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nation agency, recently completed an audit of the Thai aviation sector and noted a number of deficiencies. Although the final report has not been made public, the agency announced that it has “significant safety concerns”. If you have been involved in an accident at work due to a lack of safety then you are entitled to get as many lawyers as you want to help your case. If you receive a personal injury from something like a construction working site, it doesn’t matter if you work there or not, you can still receive compensation for your injury. When working on a construction site you need to be aware of health and safety as it might cost you your life if you aren’t careful. To ensure that you are up to date with health and safety regulations, your employer might ask you to take a course similar to wh&s more skills to help you on the job.


Audit Process

There are two main types of audit that ICAO deploys – 1. Security and 2. Safety. Both types are applicable for its 181 members / one special administrative state.

Security Audit

The first encompasses the following eight critical elements each has its own additional components (refer to this link for all the sub-components):

ICAO Aviation Security Audit Elements

ICAO Aviation Security Audit Critical Elements – Information taken from ICAO’s website on March 30, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

In February 2010, the ICAO Council introduced the term “Significant Security Concerns” (SSC) to note any members who have not demonstrated effectiveness implementation of the minimum security requirements from the member State and Annex 17 related to critical aviation security controls. These include but are not limited to the following items:

  • Screening and the protection from unauthorized interference of passengers;
  • Cabin and hold baggage;
  • Security of cargo and catering;
  • Access control to restricted and security-restricted areas of airports; and
  • Security of departing aircraft resulting in an immediate security risk to international civil aviation

Safety Audit

The Safety Audit which the Thailand Aviation Authority failed includes the following key elements:

1. Legislation

2. Organization

3. Licensing

4. Operations

5. Airworthiness

6. Accident Investigation

7. Air Navigation Services

8. Aerodromes

The following is a video more information on the audit programme

The following infographic shows the high level process from audit to SSeC or SSC notification on Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP)’s website:

ICAO Aviation Security Audit Process (SSec)

ICAO Aviation Security Audit Process (SSec) – Information taken from ICAO’s website on March 30, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Once the member State is on the USAP, it will not be taken off until all deficiencies have been addressed to the satisfaction of the ICAO.


The impact of the SSeC and more importantly SSC rating can be tremendous. After the news broke of the rating issuance, both China and Korea imposed new procedures to inspect all aircrafts operated by Thai airlines prior to departure. Additionally, these two countries as well as Japan imposed a temporary ban on issuing certificates for new flight applications and aircraft changes on existing routes.

If deficiencies are not resolved in an effective and timely manner, the State can be demoted from category 1 to 2 (where the member state failed to comply to a large amount of security criteria). In this case, all carriers from that State cannot initiate new service and are restricted to current levels of any existing service to other States (as per each States’ rules) while corrective actions are underway.

As of January 2015, the following member state are in category 2:

  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Curacaso
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Nicaragua
  • Sint Maarten
  • Uruguay


Thai Airways International, NokScoot (see pic below), Thai AirAsia X, Nok Air and Thai AirAsia are the major players in the Thai aviation industry. All are trying to expand in the Asia market with chartered flights and new service. With the restrictions in place, these airlines would have a difficult time meeting their expansion goals.

NokScoot Aircraft

NokScoot Aircraft – Image taken from airline’s website on March 30, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Thai Airways International could be the hardest hit if European Union decides to impose similar bans. The airline with headquarters in Bangkok have been losing money for three out of the past four years. It is encountering significant competition from Middle Eastern and European airlines on its long haul network (refer to link for Thai Airways long-haul network – 33 countries / 62 destinations)

Thai Airways Long Haul Network

Thai Airways Long Haul Network – Image taken from the airline’s website on March 30, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

If passengers believe there are safety concerns with Thai airlines, it could snowballed into travel restrictions on these airlines which would further impact their finances and viability. Expect to see more pricing pressure to European routes from Middle East and European airlines. Regional Asian routes could be under more competition with from LCCs like Air Asia and full service operators like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.


Thai government owned airports could also be affected as passenger number decreases due to restrictions. Lower passenger counts could have major influence to the Thai economy as it relies heavily on tourism.

June 18, 2015 Update

After 90 days, Thailand aviation authority was not able to provide additional information to the ICAO that will overturn their earlier decision on issuing a safety concern statement on the country.

On June 18, 2015, the United Nation organization issued a red flag (refer to link for additional information) specifically on Thailand aviation authority’s ability to provide adequate oversight to operators.

ICAO Safety Audit Results - Thailand

ICAO Safety Audit Results – Thailand – information taken from ICAO’s website on June 19, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Although a red flag does not automatically mean that Thailand will be reclassified in category 2, it will still take a significant length of time for the country to remediate ICAO’s concerns.

Moving forward, Thailand aviation authority will need to demonstrate clearly that it has, at a minimum, the following elements:

1. Documentation that would allow the body to provide oversight in different situations (in both normal and extraordinary operations) that follows international safety standards;

2. Process implemented to enact what has been documented. This might include collecting the necessary approvals, introducing a new structure with expertise and building and managing training programs, etc; and

3. Demonstrate over a period of time that the process has been operational as intended. This might include introducing a more robust internal audit function and additional remediation efforts based on audit results.

Once all the elements in place fully address ICAO’s safety concerns and demonstrated their effectiveness over time, that’s when Thailand’s aviation authority can request a re-audit.

The important thing is not to rush the remediation process and request a new review before all the deficiencies are fully addressed and demonstrated over a period of time.

The Thailand aviation authority has not commented on this new development. Thai Airways, the main airline for the country, issued the following statement to address any public concerns, “Despite the ICAO having “identified that Thailand has a significant safety concern with respect to the ability of the Thai DCA to properly oversee airlines under its jurisdiction,” Thai Airways International assures all parties that THAI strictly practices the safety standards of these international agencies.

• EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency)
• FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)
• CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority)
• CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
• JCAB (Japan Civil Aviation Bureau)
• IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit)

Final Call

SSeC is not something any ICAO Member State would like to receive. Thai aviation industry is under tremendous pressure to resolve all deficiencies as soon as possible to ensure it does not fall into a category 2 member. In the short term, countries like China, Japan and South Korea already reacted by stopping new requests for chartered flights (refer to our coverage on that in April 2015). Additional measures may be taken against Thailand’s airlines until all the deficiencies are resolved and cleared by the ICAO’s new audit.

2 thoughts on “Thai Aviation Industry Is On Significant Safety Concerns Alert”

    1. experiencetheskies

      Seemed like the published part did not include the information. We wanted to included both types of audits to provide some clarity.

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