Pilots have been expressing their concerns about the condition of the grounds at Bangkok's main international airport.
A new warning issued early during the month of May by International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Association - which represents 100,000 pilots globally - cites recurring "soft spots" being reported by airline crews and ground service providers at Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport since 2008. Tbe group added the soft spots could cause safety concerns including taxiways and aircraft parking positions to buckle or fail.
The group also added that the issues could be attributed to the airport was built on a former swamp. The report included a statement of “deficiencies in the asphalt materials used in pavement construction and the height of the water table below the airport.”
The Airports of Thailand, the operator of Suvarnabhumi Airport, has recognized the problems in the past adding that plans are already in place to deal with the issue. According to a report on the Bangkok Post, Maj. Kamol Wongsomboon, executive vice president responsible for maintenance for Airports of Thailand (AoT), stated there were short to long-term plans in place to address the issue.
Among the contingency plans include stand-by staff who could make repairs should a soft spot get discovered and ongoing efforts to replace the existing asphalt with one of higher quality. Eventually, portland cement would be used for the pavement.
Other Aviation industry groups have cited concerns about the soft spots at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in a 2017 report recognized the temporary efforts, but called for the AoT to accelerate the pace of improving the situation. Among the concerns were the soft spots were causing delays, congestion, and runway closures due to the ongoing soft ground situation.
Bangkok Airport has been one of the regional hubs in Asia in dire need of improvements while being able to accommodate the rapid growth of the Aviation industry in the region. The recurring soft spot issue is proving to be an added challenge to the AoT.