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06
Aug

CAAP: Air safety upgrade may take time

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Source: Jerome Aning | Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Philippines’ aviation industry may have to wait a little longer before the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restores the country’s Category 1 status, a rating that would certify that it had fully complied with international air safety standards.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General William Hotchkiss III gave no specific time period for the restoration of the category upgrade when he talked with reporters last week.

"There are still a lot of challenges. These are still under assessment," Hotchkiss, appointed CAAP chief a month ago, said about the government’s Category 1 restoration campaign with the FAA.

The retired general, in an earlier interview, said he expected "some good news" for the air transportation industry by the holiday season, adding that the President himself did not give a target date for the restoration of the Category 1 status.

Two concerns unresolved

Hotchkiss had said only two of the 22 "actionable" items identified by the FAA as safety concerns remain unresolved by CAAP. These were the lack of qualified safety personnel and the lack of an integrated electronic system to modernize the sector’s database.

More tourists, investors

The CAAP has decided to prioritize preparations for an audit by a team from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which had tagged the Philippines as a "significant safety concern" in 2009.

Hotchkiss said that passing the ICAO audit would boost the CAAP’s chances at securing Category 1 status from the FAA.

It will be recalled that in 2008, the FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status for failing to comply with international safety standards. As a result, the country’s national carrier, Philippine Airlines, was unable to expand its operations in the United States.

In 2010, the European Union (EU) also banned Philippine aircraft from flying to Europe.

The Aquino administration has been trying hard to resolve the ICAO, FAA and EU certification problems so the country could receive more tourists and foreign investors.

The ICAO audit team is scheduled to arrive in October.