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Joined: Sun Nov 21, 1999 11:18 pm

Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:25 am

I flew Thai 6 times in my life. Thye are all BKK-Phuketflights! I allways considered Thai to be a very good and safe airline but the more I think about it, the more I think the opossite!

In 1.5 million flights they had the folowing accidents (since 1970):

27 April 1980; Thai Airways BAe 748; near Bangkok: The aircraft lost altitude and crashed during approach about 8 miles (12.8 km) from the airport after entering an area of severe weather. All four crew members and 40 of the 49 passengers were killed.

15 April 1985; Thai Airways 737-200; Phuket, Thailand: The aircraft hit high ground in darkness and was destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire. The crash killed all four passengers and seven crew members.

31 August 1987; Thai Airways 737-200; Phuket, Thailand: While descending during a daylight approach in good weather, the crew lost control of the aircraft and crashed into sea, apparently due to a combination of errors by the flight crew and air traffic control. All of the nine crew members and 74 passengers were killed.

31 July 1992; Thai Airways International A310-300; near Katmandu, Nepal: The aircraft had a controlled flight into terrain about 22.5 miles (36 km) from the airport after apparently using an incorrect procedure for a missed approach. All 14 crew and 99 passengers were killed.

11 December 1998; Thai Airways International A310-200; near Surat Thani, Thailand: During its third landing attempt, the aircraft crashed just outside the Surat Thani airport. The aircraft was on a domestic flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani. There were about 50 survivors among the 132 passengers and 14 crew members.

Thats rather worrying when you compare it to Aer Lingus (1.2 million flights) in Europe that have not had any passenger fatalities since 1970!

What do you think?

Jeremiah Teahan

Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004

RE: Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:40 am

I don't think much actually, I'm not saying you're wrong, but we have to be careful about pointing fingers and making comparisons; can we really compare EI to TG, given the difference in culture, fleets, source of aircrew, engines etc. etc.? It's very difficult.

Even some of the best-known airlines have had a few accidents, (British Midland 737 Kegworth, BA 737 Manchester, United 747 Hawaii), no airline is immune to them. Since I know very little about the subject, I'll refrain from going on and on...  

I definitely would avoid Korean at ALL costs, whatever anyone told me; I've heard CRM doesn't work particularly well inside their cockpits! Neither would I feel comfortable flying ANY of the Chinese airlines, excepting perhaps Air China (I know this isn't practical).

And one more thing. I have also flown Thai twice, the second time was a night arrival at Colombo (CMB, Sri Lanka) from BKK, A300-600 "Chiang Rai"; the approach seemed way too fast to me, and the PF seemingly had no control of the a/c, as it's wings were swinging about all over the place....scary.

We then proceeded to make the HARDEST, and I mean HARDEST landing I've ever experienced in 18 years of flying! I would have loved to hear the ensuing converstion in the flightdeck! 
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:49 am

RE: Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:53 am

I wouldn't have any concerns about flying Thai; among Asian airlines, it has a decent record and you must remember that the HS748 and the two 737 incidents were Thai Airways (the domestic carrier) which was integrated with Thai International a few years back.

True, the two A310s were TG aircraft, but as Capt. Picard has pointed out, any airline can have an accident and Thai's record is not a bad one, particularly by Asian standards. It has a fairly big fleet and carries around 10m ppa (at least).


RE: Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:53 am

I would have liked to add this photo to my post above, but anyway, here is the offender!  

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Dennis Lau

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Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2000 11:50 pm

RE: Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 7:43 am

I think theyv'e addressed those glaring safety records.
Also, the 737-200 crashes were Thai Airways (and not Thai international) planes which apparently did suffer from poor safety standards.

Also, the approach into Kathmandu is rather treacherous. I believe that a Thai International DC-8 crashed on approach to kathmandu in the 70s as did a PIA A300 in 1991. I flew a Royal Nepal 727 in and we had to make 3 tries before the crew got it right. The F/A tried to allay fears by telling us that the scenario was a common one.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 1999 3:54 pm

RE: Thai Airways: An Airline With A Bad Safety Record

Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:43 pm

All valid points, however it should also be raised that the South East Asian flying conditions are not wonderful, both geographically and meteorologically.
Thai is a very proud national carrier which leads to a few problems - not much input from other cultures and a large military influence. SIA and Cathay operate in the same environment but have expatriate influences on the flightdeck and in management. This goes beyond just Thai International, but also avoiding blame for any safety problems in Thailand.
I have flown Thai on many occasions, B747-400s, A300-600s, B737-400s, B737-200s and HS748s with no fear, and enjoyed suberb handling by all Thai staff.
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Joined: Mon Oct 04, 1999 10:03 pm

Thai, Great In My Eyes!

Mon Sep 18, 2000 8:29 pm

I flew A330-300, 747-300 and 2 x 747-400, they were all very nice flights.

I will get on a Thai flight before an SQ flight !!!!, come to think of it I would fly and Chinese carrier !!!!

Bush, your a sad, sad man.
Singapore 777
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RE: Thai, Great In My Eyes!

Mon Sep 18, 2000 10:18 pm

then go fly on a Chinese carrier  

Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
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Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2000 12:29 pm

RE: Kathmandu Crash

Tue Sep 19, 2000 3:32 am

Here's some details about the TG311 crash on 31Jul1992. This is my summary of the facts from a published (non-copyrighted) case, Koirala v. Thai Airways Int'l, Ltd., 126 F.3d 1205 (9th Cir. 1997), so no infringement here.

Located in a valley surrounded by high mountains, Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Int'l Airport has a reputation of being one of the most difficult airports in the world in which to land. Planes face a steep approach with full extension of wing flaps during the entire descent. At the time of the crash, the airport had no radar, forcing ATC to determine aircraft location and provide instructions to planes by air-to-ground and ground-to-air radio communications. Flying TG311 were Captain Preeda Suttimai and FO Phuntat Boonyayej, both properly licensed and certified with substantial experience flying into Kathmandu.

The weather on the night of the crash was cloudy and rainy, providing little visibility and requiring the crew to depend entirely on navigational instruments to fly the plane. At 6:46:07 Coordinated Universal Time, ATC authorized the captain to execute a landing approach. At that time the aircraft was flying at heading 022, or twenty-two degrees east of due north. The crew realized at 6:47:34, however, that the wing flaps had failed to extend properly, making the landing too dangerous to attempt. The crew requested permission to divert to Calcutta, but the wing flaps properly extended at 6:49:05 before ATC had a chance to respond. At that time, however, the plane was too far north and too high to begin a safe descent to the runway.

The captain requested four times between 6:49:08 and 6:50:21 for clearance to turn left and fly south to point "Romeo", a position 41 miles south of the airport where the plane had made its initial approach. ATC did not respond to these requests.

Around 6:50:50, the flight crew began a climbing right turn, without first having reqested or obtained clearance from ATC. The FO notified ATC at 6:51:55 of the right turn and the flight crew's intention to climb to 18,000 ft. and return to point Romeo. ATC ordered the plane to descend to 11,500 ft. and maintain that altitude, which the crew did.

Between 6:52:06 and 6:59:39, ATC on six separate times authorized the plane to head south and return to point Romeo. Rather than turning 180 degrees on heading 202, the flight crew mistakenly executed a 360 degree turn, which put them on their original heading of 022 toward the mountains.

The flight crew tried to input and display the location of point Romeo on their Flight Management System, but the FMS was incapable of displaying navigational points located behind the plane. Preoccupied with their unsuccesful efforts to program the FMS, the flight crew ignored all the navigational instruments which indicated a northerly heading of the plane. The flight crew believed that they were heading south and could not understand why they weren't able to display point Romeo on the FMS.

By 6:59:56, the flight crew had been continously trying to program the FMS for approximately six minutes. At 6:59:58, the FO realized that the plane was heading north, but when he tried to communicate this fact to the captain, the captain did not understand the warning. Twenty-eight seconds later, at 7:00:26, the plane crashed into the side of mountain 23 miles north of Kathmandu at 11,500 feet altitude and a ground speed of 300 knots, killing all 99 passengers and 14 crew members instantly.

Relatives of seven of the passengers brought a succesful action in the U.S. under the Warsaw Convention. The court held that the crash resulted from the flight crew's "wilful misconduct" in failing to monitor their navigational instruments. This finding of wilful misconduct allowed the relatives to recover more than the $75,000 liability limit normally in place under the Warsaw Convention.

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