April 29, 2015

Business aircraft operators flying to Thailand should be prepared for extra scrutiny in the wake of an audit of Thailand’s civil aviation safety systems by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Following the audit, ICAO issued a significant safety concern, and placed Thailand’s aviation operations under “special measures” in March.

Pat Dunn, NBAA’s International Operators Committee regional lead for ICAO Region VII (Middle East / Asia), advises operators to anticipate Safety Oversight of Foreign Airlines (SOFA) checks, similar to those imposed last year on N-registered aircraft by civil aviation authorities in India when the FAA downgraded that country’s safety rating. The FAA subsequently raised India’s status to Category One on 8 April 8 after Indian authorities addressed a dozen of the concerns.

Dunn, who flies for Asia Corporate Jet, based in Singapore, said the time required for a ramp check in Thailand “depends on how prepared you are.” He uses an iPad-based paperless flight log, which incorporates a widely used SOFA checklist.

“We know the location on the airplane of every item they ask about, and what the status is,” Dunn said, “We have a scanned copy of all of our documents, and for particular regulatory documents, I keep a hard copy on the airplane. Even though we’re Cayman-registered to be paperless, you’re in their territory, so you’ve got to play by their rules.”

An ICAO spokesperson said the agency’s audit “revealed some safety concerns, primarily relating to air operator certification procedures.” ICAO reportedly rejected Thailand’s initial plan to address its concerns. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered an urgent overhaul of the civil aviation department. Meanwhile, aviation authorities in some other countries have placed restrictions on aircraft registered in or operated from Thailand.

According to ICAO, “a significant safety concern… indicates that the state is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO standards. Full technical details of the ICAO findings have been made available to the state to guide rectification, as well as to all ICAO member states to facilitate any actions that they may consider necessary to ensure safety.”

Review ICAO safety audits.