After being “red flagged” by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on 18 June 2015 due to 572 findings from the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach, 33 of which were significant safety concerns (SSCs), Thailand entered into the most significant institutional reform in aviation history. From 1 October 2015, the responsibilities of the former Department of Civil Aviation was splitted into 3 new offices: the regulatory function went to a newly established “The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand”, the operation of their airports became under “Department of Airports”, and the functions of search and rescue of aircraft and aircraft accident investigation moved to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), established as an autonomous government agency, started the process of regulatory reform of the safety oversight system through the amendments of the primary regulation, introduction of more ICAO standard regulations, recruitment of new qualified technical staff, provision of appropriate trainings to enhance and maintain their competency, establishment of technical guidance, manuals and tools both for their own technical personnel and for the operators. A new air operator certification system was introduced and all international air operators were required to recertify under the new scheme.
During 20 – 27 September 2017, Thailand received ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) to validate the progress in resolving the SSCs. From the SSC ICVM, the “red flag” disappeared from ICAO website from 6 October 2017, 572 findings in 2015 were reduced to 463.
CAAT continued the effort in implementing the corrective action plans submitted to ICAO. With the tangible progress, ICAO dispatched the second ICVM team to conduct the validation. In principle, the validation covers 8 critical elements in 8 areas. The critical elements are Primary aviation legislation; Specific operating regulations; Thailand’s civil aviation system and safety oversight functions; Technical personnel, qualification and training; Technical guidance, tools and the provision of safety critical information; Licensing, certification, authorization and approval obligations; Surveillance obligations; and Resolutions of safety concerns. The auditor teams validated those elements in 7 out of 8 areas: Primary aviation legislation and civil regulation regulations, Civil aviation organization, Personal licensing and training, Aircraft operation, Airworthiness of aircraft, Air navigation services and Aerodrome and ground aids. The area of Aircraft accident and incident investigation was not validated due to the unavailability of the specialized auditor.
The preliminary audit result from the ICVM team revealed that the Effective Implementation (EI) level of Thailand has risen almost double in about 4 years. It took 2 years and 3 months for Thailand to lift the red flag, together with the increase of EI from 34.20 to 41.46. With the additional 1 year and 7 months, the EI score has gone up to 65.07%. The existing EI is above ICAO targeted figure: 60%. The audit result also underlines that Thailand has reached the average score of the whole 193 ICAO member countries.
The achievement is the outcome of the commitment of the Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and Ministers in the cabinet, the full backing of the members of the National Legislative Assembly, the collective effort and dedication of all CAAT personnel, and the understanding and common objectives of all aviation operators in Thailand.
CAAT is committed to continue to lay down foundation and become an enabler to the sustainable growth of Thai aviation industry, under the corporate vision of “Standard toward Sustainability”.
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