ICAO removes Thailand’s Red Flag two years after a finding of deficiency ISO certifies ICAO’s USOAP

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ICAO USOAP audit clears Thailand's deficiencies
ISO finds USOAP up to standards



ICAO revokes Thailand’s red flag status

ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program achieves ISO certification

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)  has been the subject of repeated audits by the FAA (IASA  2015 Category 2) and IATA (USOAP 2015 red flag). Their findings are displayed in the below ICAO graphic and FAA text:

Technically, the FAA determined that the DCA, as a governmental body, lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its civil aviation authority a body equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures.

The deficiencies identified – particularly legislation, organization, licensing and operations are both important areas of concern and involve significantly low scores. Either or both usually require considerable time to get the corrective legislation enacted, to hire/train to the level needed to boost the organization and to push those enhancements out through the staff.

The commercial consequences of the Red Flag and Category 2 ratings impact the airlines, in particular. While these negative determinations as to CAAT, their ability to add flights are limited plus their aircraft are more likely to incur ramp inspections.


After a recent ICAO audit of CAAT, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that it was a pride of his country and a significant turning point for the country’s aviation industry after concerted efforts boosted confidence in Thai airlines and a plan for the nation as a regional aviation hub.


According to a report by the Directors General of Civil Aviation Asia and  Pacific Regions, an ICAO group for coordination of safety and other points of mutual interest, issued the following analyses of the CAAT’s remedial actions:

2.1 ¦the activities to resolve the SSC {serious safety concerns} are

1) to prepare regulations, procedures and guidance for the recertification of AOCs for air operators operating in international routes,

2) the issuing of rules and regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods and supporting the AOC recertification programme,

3) the training of CAAT inspection and supporting staff, and 4) the assessment and issue of AOCs by CAAT staff, in conjunction with experts from foreign organizations.

The SSC resolution was completed on 30 June 2017 and the SSC ICVM (ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission) was also requested.

2.2 The recertification program, started on 12 September 2016.

From the original 28 AOCs, only 24 AOCs entered into the process because 4 of them were suspended from quarantine into suspension. As of 31 July 2017, eight airlines have completed recertification process: Bangkok Airways, Thai Air Asia, Thai Airways, NokScoot, Thai Air Asia X, NokAir, Thai Smile and Thai Lion Air. The whole AOC recertification programme is anticipated to be fully completed by the beginning of 2018.

  1. SSC ICVM CAAT established Quality Assurance Unit to ensure the standard of all CAAT activities. The unit reports directly to the Director General. For SSC ICVM the QA unit has performed internal audit to ensure the standard of AOC Recertification carried out by Flight Operations Standard Department, Dangerous Goods Department, Airworthiness and Aircraft Engineering Department. It was found that all 33 SSC corrective action were completed and uploaded to On-line Framework on 30 June 2017.

4.1 CAAT’s focus is not only to resolve the SSC but also to lay down foundation to enhance its overall safety oversight capacity so that it can become a world-class aviation regulator. DGCA ¾ 54/IP/3/67 – 2 – A key enabler for CAAT to become a ‘world class safety regulator is the sufficient highly competent technical and operational staff. Inspector training has been provided in order to ensure that inspectors are familiar with newly revised regulations, procedures & checklists and understand and the certification and continued surveillance process will be conducted with the new standards.

4.2 CAAT has established Training Division and inspector training need has been assessed. Gap analysis was conducted to collect and review the recruitment, training and retraining needs. Training syllabuses for inspectors are identified. Experts from UK CAA International (CAAi) and French Direction Generale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC) are identified as on the job training assessors to ensure that inspectors demonstrate the necessary competence and skills to be authorised as ‘competent officials’.

4.3 Technical inspector trainings on AOC recertification were provided during August and September 2016 before certification process. A systematic training records is being developed. A full resource review is currently being undertaken to establish the sustainable number of technical inspectors required for the future.

The directors recommended that CAAT’s status be upgraded

Local sources noted as part of the effort to restore its reputation, Thailand reorganized its former Department of Civil Aviation into three separate bodies, including CAAT, and launched the Air Operator Certificates (AOC) recertification program, mandatory for all country’s carriers with international operations. From September 1, 2017 twelve Thai airlines that did not complete the AOC recertification program prior the given deadline were {sic} banned from operating international flights.


CAAT, in announcing the ICAO decision and also indicating that the FAA was likely soon to upgrade to Category 1, acknowledged that there is more that needs to be done:

Although lifting red flag is a significant turning point for her aviation industry, Thailand as well as CAAT need to carry on their missions to improve the aviation safety standards and become one of the world’ forefront.  Thailand must continue to progress the corrective actions for all findings from the previous inspection in January 2015 under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA). Similarly, all findings from the recent audit under the Universal Security Audit Program – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) during 11-21 July 2017 must be rectified.

A similar To Do list was part of India’s recent FAA review.

Coincidentally, on about the same date, International Organization for Standardization, following its most recent standards for quality management systems, (ISO 9001:2015), found the USAOP compliant. That determination included the following explanation:

The scope of the recertification will help to further refine the collection, processing and sharing of safety oversight information gathered under the USOAP; the overall conduct and cost-effectiveness of ICAO’s continuous monitoring activities; and the provision of safety oversight training and seminars in aid of various global aviation safety objectives

Wonder if these changes were part of the Thai review?

In any event, it might be most cost effective and consistent approach for the repetitive ICAO, FAA and EASA audits to be consolidated into one.

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