Saturday, March 28, 2009

Philippines, Australia expand air access

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Australia and the Philippines have signed a deal increasing the frequency and capacity of flights between the two nations, their governments said Thursday.

Philippine and Australian carriers will now be allowed to offer up to 4,000 seats each way per week between major Australian cities such as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, and Manila or Clark in the Philippines.

The old limit was 2,500 seats a week.

Over time, and depending on demand, the new limit could be raised to 6,000 seats, Australia's envoy to Manila, Rod Smith, told reporters.

The air agreement also authorises the carriers of both countries to operate unlimited services to regional airports.

Around 313,000 people travelled between Australia and the Philippines last year, making Australia a top-five source of tourist traffic here, according to official data.

'The new arrangements are a good example of Australia and the Philippines working together to liberalise international aviation to the benefit of the travelling public, the tourism industry and airline carriers in both Australia and the Philippines,' Smith said.

The governments also agreed to allow dependents and spouses of diplomatic personnel to work in either country, Smith said.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pilot training, MRO niche segments for Philippines in Asian aviation

MANILA, Mar 23, 2009  Pilot training and aircraft maintenance will emerge as niche segments for the Philippines in the Asian aviation industry, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

?In Asia Pacific, there are requirements in pilot training and I?m not surprised if any of the investment is going to be in the Philippines, recruiting new cadets and giving them the training for PPL (private pilot license), CPL (commercial pilot license), or ATPL (airline transport pilot license) licensing,? Subhranshu Sekhar Das, Malaysia-based Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific director for aerospace & defense, said in a phone interview.

The Asia Pacific pilot training market became a $ 10-billion industry in 2008 with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 11 percent, according to Frost & Sullivan.

While the need for pilots has declined along with the slump in air travel due to the current global economic crisis, pilot requirements would be on the rise again by 2010, Das reported during the firm?s 2009 aviation summit held in Singapore earlier this month. The aviation industry as a whole has been experiencing a shortage of pilots, which drives the market for training, he added.

?There are close to 700 pilots in the Philippines but the demand is growing. They may have some shortage by 2013. So the pilot requirement will grow almost six percent CAGR,? he told PNA.

Frost & Sullivan data show that the country accounted for two percent of the total number of pilots in the Asia Pacific region last year.

This places the Philippines at the tailend of the market, along with Vietnam. The biggest source is China, with 37 percent, followed by India and Japan, with 12 percent market share each.

In 2008, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea each accounted for 6 percent; Thailand, 5 percent; New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore, 4 percent each.

Aircraft maintenance business, known in the aviation industry as maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), is also emerging as another niche for the country.

In his summit presentation, Das said the commercial fixed wing segment of MRO business in Asia Pacific would continue to grow despite the economic crisis.

In 2008, Frost & Sullivan projected the region?s overall MRO business to have generated $ 22.55 billion in revenues.

It forecasts revenues to reach $ 66.58 billion by 2030, with the commercial fixed wing segment accounting for 54 percent of MRO business from 45 percent last year.

By 2030, the global consultancy firm expects diminished markets for the military rotary and fixed wing segments, as well as for civil rotary wing.

?Organically, the industry is growing in Asia Pacific so it is going to create opportunities for MRO industry, create opportunities for airport industry in terms of setting up the MRO facilities, in terms of pilot training, in terms general aviation and so on,? Das said in an interview.

?But it is difficult for us to be a leader in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) industry. We may get in this part of the world work as a component manufacturer or as an industry to supplement or complement to the integrated Europe and North America. But certainly in MRO industry, airport development, pilot training school and general aviation, a lot of opportunities for this part of the world including Philippines.?

Good MRO Performance

Among the US Federal Aviation Administration-certified repair stations in the country are FFC Services Asia-Pacific Operations and Honeywell Ceasa Subic Bay Co. Inc., both located at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone; International Aviation Service Assistance at the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ); Moog Controls Corp. at the Baguio ecozone; Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) headquartered at the MacroAsia Special Economic Zone of Villamor Airbase, with operations in Cebu, Clark and Davao; as well as Nordisk Aviation Services Phils. Corp. located in ParaƱaque City.

The 2008 performance of LTP, a joint venture between MacroAsia Corp. and Lufthansa AG initially formed to service the fleet of Philippine Airlines (PAL), boosts the positive outlook on MRO business in the Philippines.

In its Third Quarter 2008 report, MacroAsia noted that it managed to post a four-percent growth in consolidated net income for the period due largely to the 30 percent rise in LTP?s net income.

In its 2008 annual report presented March 12, Lufthansa Technik Group announced LTP revenues for the year at 160 million euros (equivalent to P10.6 billion).

Aviation Week, an industry magazine, noted in its report on the financial results that LTP was among the strongest revenue earners in the global network of the Lufthansa Technik Group last year, next only to Ameco Beijing, the latter?s joint venture with Air China, and N3 Engine Overhaul Services, the joint venture with Rolls Royce Plc.

According to MacroAsia, LTP is currently providing MRO services from its facility in NAIA to PAL, Lufthansa Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and other international airlines that fly to Manila.

It also provides technical ground handling services to Air Niugini, China Airlines, Egypt Air, Eva Air, KLM Royal Dutch, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air and Cathay Pacific Airways.

Regional Race

There is a race between Singapore and Malaysia to become the regional MRO hub, Das noted in his presentation. Currently, Singapore corners 90 percent of the region?s MRO business, he said.

Work is underway for the 300-hectare Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore, which it touts to be a world-class industrial park for a wide range of aerospace activities, including MRO, OEM and training for pilots, aviation professionals and technical personnel. It is expected to be completed by 2018.

Meanwhile, Malaysia plans to transform itself into a global aerospace player by 2015 through its Malaysia International Aerospace Center being developed at the former Subang Airport.

Here in the Philippines, a 2,715-hectare Civil Aviation Complex is being developed at the CSEZ. The Clark International Airport Corp. announced last year two major locators at the Civil Aviation Complex. These were Kuwait Gulf and Link, which plans to build 125-hectare logistics park, and Singapore Airlines Engineering Co. (SIAEC), which will locate a 10-hectare MRO facility at the DMIA that will complement existing operations at Singapore?s Changi Airport.

?It?s all about the country strength and weaknesses and how they are going to position the country to create that environment. There are opportunities in the Philippines. It all depends on how the government is going to attract the investors to set up the industries,? Das said.

He added that big OEM integrators could also tap the Philippines for Tier 1 or Tier 2 components or parts manufacturing.

Other opportunities would also be presented by the massive airport development in China and India until 2020, which could generate design and build projects for Philippine contractors.

But he noted the country?s strongest suit remains with service-oriented segments of the aviation industry due to its skilled workforce and their English language proficiency.

?Manufacturing industries are definitely China and India. Singapore and Malaysia can drive the research and development in other high-tech jobs. The Philippines can probably continue MRO industries, pilot training schools or maybe create the general aviation potential for the other countries,? he said.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Qld looks to get Qantas maintenance jobs from Philippines

As Pacific Brands and other companies send Australia jobs offshore, negotiations are underway which could see hundreds of Queensland aviation industry jobs protected and more jobs created.

The Australian Workers' Union Queensland vice-president Marina Williams said negotiations with Qantas to move the maintenance of more than 20 A330s passenger aircraft from The Philippines to Brisbane were well advanced."

The ageing 767 fleet is being phased out by Qantas," Ms Williams said. "There are up to 400 staff working in the hangars in Brisbane servicing and maintaining these aircraft," Ms Williams said.

The potential was for many of these jobs to be lost in coming years as the 767 fleet was phased out. "However, we are negotiating for more than 20 of the new A330s to be serviced here in Brisbane rather than the Philippines."

Ms Williams said the Queensland government's efforts over the last decade to build a world-leading aviation industry had been critical to the negotiations to protect and create local aviation jobs.

The agreement we are negotiating offers to not only protect 400 jobs, but create more jobs and invest in upskilling of staff."Employers, whether they are from the public or private sector, should do all they can to retain skilled staff in tough economic times and plan for future recovery," she said.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WingsOverAsia Annual Getaway Mar 2009 – Hua Hin, Thailand

In the first week of March, WingsOverAsia achieved a new milestone with its first ever event held outside Singapore and Malaysia.  This time, our wings had spread northwards to Hua Hin, Thailand’s oldest beach resort situated approximately 200 km from the Thai capital, Bangkok.  Hua Hin enjoys a prestigious status amongst the numerous resort towns in Thailand simply because it houses the holiday home of the Thai royal family.  In fact, we found out that when the King is in residence, there are always 3 battleships anchored off the coast of Hua Hin for his royal protection.  And this was exactly the sight that greeted the WOA crew when we traipsed down to the beach on our first day in Hua Hin.
Read all about it and see the photos here ...

Legazpi airport executive gets ax

MANILA, Philippines - The manager of Legazpi City airport in Albay was relieved yesterday after a van driven by his son almost collided with a plane on the runway last Saturday.

Frisco Sto. Domingo was replaced last Monday by Edgardo Ramos on orders of Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, according to Undersecretary Thompson Lantion, Mendoza’s de facto spokesman.

“(Sto. Domingo) was ordered to report here at the CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) headquarters,” Lantion said

Sto. Domingo will be on “floating status” at the CAAP, he added.

At MalacaƱang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said yesterday Frisco Sto. Domingo has been suspended pending an investigation into the incident at Legaspi City airport involving his son.

In Legaspi City, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has advised Sto. Domingo to file his immediate retirement.

“The increasing number of flights at the city airport, as well as the new Bicol International Airport to be constructed at Barangay Alobo in Daraga town, shows that such violation of basic safety rules is a disgrace to our rising reputation as a tourism destination, a disservice to the riding public and temporary setback to our tourism effort,” he said.

Salceda and Legaspi City Mayor Noel Rosal immediately asked for the suspension and relief of Sto. Domingo after his son’s van almost collided with a Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu last Saturday afternoon.

Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Tallento, Police Aviation Security Group commander in Legaspi, will also be investigated, Rosal added.

Sto. Domingo went on official leave of absence following the incident involving his son and namesake, Frisco Sto. Domingo Jr.

Last Saturday, Cebu Pacific flight CEB172 aborted its landing at 2:10 p.m. when Sto. Domingo Jr.’s car, a Delica Lite Ace van, crossed the runway while the plane was about to land.

The plane circled the runway and safely landed some 10 minutes later.

The elder Sto. Domingo was also the manager of the Daet, Naga, Bulan, and Virac airports.

Director General Ruben Ciron of the CAAP sent a team of investigators to Legaspi last Monday to conduct an investigation.

The group consists of Col. Jose R. Saplan, chairman of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board; Gil Macapagal of the Enforcement and Legal Service, and Luciano Macose, assistant chief of administration and also an airways communications specialist.

Reports reaching Ciron said that CEB 172 originated from Mactan International Airport in Cebu.

Prior to a plane’s landing, the control tower activates the airport siren with a series of blasts to warn everyone in the vicinity of an approaching airplane.

The siren is a warning to civilians not to cross the runway or enter the aircraft movement area, encompassing the tarmac and the parking lots, except employees of the CAAP and those connected with airline companies.

Legaspi control tower noted heavy rains and poor visibility at the time of the incident, Ciron said.

Shortly after the incident, Sto. Domingo Jr. said he did not hear the siren or see the incoming plane due to poor visibility.

However, Ciron said that the excuse does not absolve Sto. Domingo of his liability.

Ciron also ordered a review of all existing security measures in key airports, along with appropriate remedies to prevent similar incidents.

The plane was carrying 80 passengers including Tourism Secretary Ace Durano and his family.

Rosal said he and his party as well as Tourism regional director Nini Ravanilla were waiting for Durano’s arrival from Cebu when they saw the plane suddenly abort landing as a gray van crossed the runway from out of nowhere.

Lantion said that they will await the results of the CAAP probe ordered by Ciron before issuing the punishment for Sto. Domingo.

Sto. Domingo, it was learned, was not the airport manager on duty during the incident since he was in Iloilo City on official CAAP business.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Philippine Airlines studying new flights to Australia following air talks

LOCAL CARRIERS are studying the feasibility of mounting flights to Australia after two-day air talks yielded more entitlements for the Philippines.From 2,500 seats, flights between Manila and Clark to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth have been increased to a maximum of 6,000 seats per week.Flights between other regional airports in Australia and airports in the Philippines have no capacity or frequency restrictions."We welcome the developments in the recent RP-Australia air talks. 

We are always looking for new destinations that we can include in our route network expansion," Candice A. Iyog, vice-president for marketing of the Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific, said."The Philippines’ strategic location allows us to explore this linkage opportunity," Ms. Iyog added.Businessman Alfredo M. Yao said his budget airline Zest Airways, Inc., is likewise interested in mounting flights to Australia."Yes, there is a possibility. We are looking at it. We sent a representative to the negotiations in Australia because we are interested," Mr. Yao said.

But dominant carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it has yet to study if it would get more entitlements to Australia. In October, PAL increased flights to Melbourne and Sydney to daily from five times a week."We are still studying the market. It would depend if there is demand," said PAL spokesman Jonathan P. Gesmundo.South East Asian Airlines President Avelino L. Zapanta said he was "cautious" regarding expansion because of the economic climate."We will be studying it, but right now it might foolhardy or unjustifiable to expand," Mr. Zapanta said.The Philippine negotiating panel, led by Transportation and Communication Undersecretary Doroteo A. Reyes II, included representatives from the departments of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, and Tourism, as well as the Civil Aeronautics Board and airport authorities.

The Australian air panel, meanwhile, was headed by Iaian Lumsden, director of the bilateral aviation and airports division of Australia’s Department of Transport and Regional Services.Local airlines were also given fifth freedom traffic rights, meaning they can pick up passengers in Australia before flying to another destination in another country — except Singapore and the United States — but the final destination must be New Zealand.

Australian carriers can pick up passengers from the Philippines en route to Port Moresby and another point, but the final destination must be any of the following: Hong Kong, Japan, India, Bahrain, Iran, Greece, Austria, France, the United Kingdom, and two additional points to be nominated, except the US, Canada and China.Flights going to Japan, however, were restricted to 2,500 seats each per week.

Lucky Escape for Clark Aviation MPL Cadet

A Clark Aviation MPL (Multi Crew Pilot License) Cadet had a narrow escape yesterday about Lunch time when his Cessna 172-S aircraft stalled after conducting a "Touch and Go" procedure

The aircraft came to rest, badly damaged, at the approach end or Runway 20 at Omni Aviation Airstrip on th eClark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines.

Witnesses to the accident said they were able to see the complete top of the aircraft as it climbed out after the "Touch and Go" manouver, indicating a very high angle of attack. They aircraft appeared to Stall, dipping its right wing first, then turning left and impacting the ground to the left of Runway 02.

First responders found the pilot vacated from the aircraft which had fuel dripping in volume from the right wing tank. The pilot sustained facial injuries and an Ambulance and Paramedic team from the Philippine Airforce transported the pilot to hospital.

Over the past several months observers have often commented on the departure procedures executed by the Clark Aviation training aircraft, including many observed "High Energy" Departures (Converting takeoff speed to height by pulling back on the controls)

The aircraft was observed to have its Flaps in the Fully Extended Position after it impacted the ground.

This is one very lucky young man ...

Cebu Pacific offers domestic to international flight connections with no surcharges

Cebu Pacific (CEB) will offer domestic to international flight connections with no surcharges starting on 16-Mar-09, bringing down its fares further by as much as 15% or more than PHP1,000 per way.

CEB VP for marketing and distribution, Candice Iyog said, “We hope this will encourage more tourists to visit the Philippines and its wonderful attractions. This will also help returning OFWs save more as they take connecting flights to their families in the provinces.”

Incident: Cebu Pacific AT72 at Legaspi on Mar 14th 2009, runway incursion during landing

A Cebu Pacific Airlines Aerospatiale ATR-72-500, flight 5J-172 from Cebu to Legaspi (Philippines) with 68 passengers, was almost into the flare to Legaspi, when a van of the airport authority crossed the runway without authorization. The Cebu Pacific crew initiated a go-around and landed safely a few minutes later.

The incident was observed by the Legaspi City Mayor, who immediately informed the Civil Aviation Authority about the incident. The van was reportedly driven by the son of the local representative of the Air Transportation Office ATO.

Story at:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Malaysian Inaugural hot air balloon fiesta

IF motorists travelling to Putrajaya early last month were caught by surprise at the sight of two colourful hot air balloons slowly floating over several ministries in Precinct 2, then watch out next week when 15 more will fill the sky for four days from March 19 to March 22.

Their appearance will be in conjunction with the inaugural Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2009.

A publicity stunt was held at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan where reporters were invited to take a static ride in two balloons.

A total of 10 countries are taking part in the international show with two participants from Malaysia — AKA Balloon and Cat Balloon and with Belgium entering six.

Other participants are Mug Balloon (New Zealand); Hs-Fly Balloon, Peacock and Paddy 2 (Netherlands); Solidaires Par Nature and Independence (France), Voyager (US); Reg.No. RPS 1201 (Philippines); Heart Balloon (Switzerland) and Yui (Japan).

The participants from Belgium are Reg.No.00-Bex, Orange, Nelly-B, Reg.No.00-BZA and Clown.

Crowed puller: Two hot-air balloons that will be on show at the Inaugural Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta this month at Precinct 2 being introduced to the media at the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan.

The four-day event will be co-organised by the Malaysian Sport Aviation Federation (MSAF) and AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd which was formed in 1993.

MSAF and AKA Balloon signed a MoU with their sponsors and partners — MASkargo, Petronas Dagangan Berhad, Palace of the Golden Horses, Kelantan Delights, Media Prima Berhad, Putrajaya Corporation, Putrajaya Tourism Action Council and Tourism Malaysia.

According to MSAF vice-president Khairuddin Abdul Rani, the MoU signifies the support for the inaugural event which is due to be an annual event in the tourism calendar.

Apart from the daily sorties of hot air balloons, the public will also be treated to other flying events featuring para-motor, remote-controlled planes, helicopters, aero models and professional kite-flying.

“Rides in the hot air balloons will not be offered to the public. Instead visitors can enjoy viewing thrilling take-offs and landings.

“It would be simply impossible to entertain requests from the public especially when we are anticipating more than 100,000 people to turn up for the four-day event,’’ said Khairuddin.

According to him, international hot air balloon events in the Philippines, which is in its seventh year, easily attract more than 400,000 spectators, while those in Pattaya, Thailand, attracts between 250,000 and 300,000 spectators.

Khairuddin said there was a potential in this sport as there were many hot air balloon enthusiasts taking part in other international events.

Asked what prompted him to organise a hot air balloon fiesta in Putrajaya, Khairuddin said: “I was at one of the international events when I noticed Malaysians taking part. One of them approached me to have a similar event in Malaysia.’’

Khairuiddin, who has been interested in hot air balloons since he was in college, has flown in South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Britain and the Philippines.

He along with Mohd Sobri (Cat Balloon), a qualified hot air balloon pilot since 1995, are the two Malaysian participants whose long-term objective is to put Malaysia on par with other established events like Saga in Japan or Albuquerque in the United States.

Mohd Sobri, who is the CEO of a local IT company, has flown the hot air balloon all over the world, from the Austrian Alps to the island of Cheju in South Korea.

His ambition is to make Alor Setar, his hometown, a name in the ballooning circle like Saga or Albuquerque.

Khairuddin added that the highlight of the fiesta would be an enchanting Night Glow scheduled to take place on the night of March 21, from 8.30pm to 9pm.

“The hot air balloons will be set up as if they are going to take off and under coded instructions via radio communications, the pilots will create a variety of dazzling effects set to a special music mix,’’ he said.

Cruise Tasik Putrajaya and Perahu Dondang Sayang will be offering special rates during the fiesta for their sightseeing cruise to give spectators the chance to experience Putrajaya like never before.

The fiesta will be held at the car park of the Millennium Monument in Precinct 2 from 7am to 7pm. Entrance is free.

For more information, visit or call: 03-74940298

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Clark mulls Pacific Avia Group proposal for new terminal

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – After a failed bidding for the construction of a modern passenger terminal at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here, the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) has announced it is now evaluating Pacific Avia Group, Inc. (PAGI) as possible joint venture (JV) partner in the project that could cost anywhere from P3 billion to P7 billion.

In a statement, CIAC vice president for administration and finance Romeo Dyoco, who chairs the joint venture-selection Committee (JV-SC), said whoever will be CIAC’s partner will “design, finance, construct and operate” the proposed terminal 2 which will increase the passenger capacity of the old but upgraded terminal 1 that was constructed by the Americans when Clark was still a US air force base.

He said PAGI has been accepted by JV-SC “for detailed evaluation and eligibility check” which is expected to be finished by March 13. After passing this requirement, PAGI “will be subjected to a competitive challenge of stage 3” process, it said.

CIAC cited the need to construct a bigger passenger terminal “due to the significant increases in the volume of flights and international passengers during the past three years” and its “mandate” to transform the DMIA into a premiere international gateway of the country.

In May last year, CIAC announced the bidding for the terminal project, soliciting three companies which submitted bid documents. Admiral Energy of the US passed the bidding but later failed to submit proof of its track record in the operation of an international passenger terminal.

CIAC said it consulted with and got the go signal from the Office of Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) to pursue the project through the so-called competitive challenge process under its old JV guidelines.

It noted that last November, it received four unsolicited proposals under such process, inclusing those from PAGI, Philco Aero Consortium, R–II Holdings,Inc. and SNC – Lavalin International, Inc.

PAGI, the only local group among the four, is composed of A.M. Oreta Construction Co., DHL Philippines, DRI Holdings, EGIS AVIA S.A., Pentagon Development Corp., the Bank of Commerce and Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose.

CIAC initially approved the proposal of R – II Holdings, but it was later found to have failed to cope with “minimum non negotiable issues required for the project”.

Last Jan. 8, PAGI submitted a complete proposal for the terminal project and this was received favorably by CIAC, even as a new party, the Eugenio Group, also submitted its proposal.

Last Feb. 27, the JV-SC received another proposal from Al Mal Proposal from the Al Karafi Group.

“For very critical reasons on the substance of their proposals and the contextual conditions and requirements of their proposals both the Eugenio Consortium and the Al Mal were rejected,” CIAC said.

“The CIAC joint venture selection committee (JVSC) evaluated both proposals head to head and item to item, and arrived at the conclusion that the PAGI, proposal met its minimum requirements and is vastly superior to the Eugenio CIAC noted that while the present terminal was upgraded last year, its capacity is limited to only 1.5 million passengers per year.

CIAC said, however, that other facilities have been installed to modernize DMIA. These include radars, runway lights and signages, a second runway, modern aviation security and emergency systems, and terminal carousel and x-ray machines.

Airport officials also said they are eyeing a new terminal that could increase DMIA’s passenger capacity from three to seven million passengers annually.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Philippine Civil Aviation pressed to restore US confidence

STAKEHOLDERS in the Philippine travel and tourism industry on Friday want to know if the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has made any move to restore US confidence in Philippine air carriers.

This developed after the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) included the country on the list of 21 countries under the restrictive Category 2.

Robert Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), said CAA’s action is crucial because Category 2 restricts flights to the US, thus putting on hold any plan by Philippine air carriers to expand and modernize their fleet.

Rep. Monico Puentevella fast-tracked the creation of CAA on March 5, 2008, to replace the Air Transportation Office (ATO) following FAA’s verdict that “the Philippines is an unsafe port of origin.”

In downgrading the country in January last year from the higher safety and security rating in Category 1 to Category 2, the FAA cited “failure to provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with safety oversight standards set by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” a United Nations organization

Joseph said Category 2 is very onerous, citing a provision that prevents airlines from changing an aircraft for a better one, notwithstanding that the replacement is made by a tested and trusted American company.

He said President Gloria Arroyo gave CAA a marching order to resolve the Category 2 problem within 90 days, but there has not been any development since the directive was issued a year ago.

“What has happened to CAA? What is the status of the safety upgrades?” Naitas wanted to know. “There is no update,” Joseph said.

He said the bigger problem in not getting a higher safety rating is that Europe and other countries could follow the action of the US FAA, endangering further the growth of Philippine civil aviation.

He said one reason CAA has not made any major move to reinstate the Philippines to Category 1 might be due to its lack of representative from private stake-holders. Moreover, there are not enough knowledgeable people in the agency who can address and resolve the problem, he added.

“There should be somebody in the CAA board who understands air safety, security and airline operations,” Joseph said.

He suggested that CAA should tap the private sector for experienced airline executives who can help with the necessary improvements that would remove the obstacles for the country’s return to Category 1.

He said Congress could use its oversight function and find out how the law that created CAA is being implemented and what the agency is now doing to solve problems in civil aviation.

Plane's tire bursts upon landing in the Philippines

CEBU CITY, Philippines ? A light aircraft that came from a training flight met a minor accident when it landed at the general aviation area of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Saturday.

The light plane, with tail number RPC 4433 and operated by Aviatour, had just finished its training flight when its main right wheel tire exploded when it landed at 5:52 p.m. Saturday, according to Samuel Elle, MCIA?s manager for domestic operation.

Fortunately, the pilot, identified as Captain Allan Kho and his student pilot, Manish Ratna Shakya, a Nepalese, were not hurt, Elle said. The two departed from the airport at 4:27 p.m. for the training flight, Elle added.
The cause of the accident was still under investigation, he said.

Elle said the incident did not cause any disruption in the airport?s operation as the damaged aircraft was immediately towed to a hangar, or at about 6:04 p.m.

Friday, March 6, 2009

PAF diamond flies again after 30 years, Defense chief leads formation

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga -- On Thursday, the skies over the former Clark Airbase in Pampanga saw a spectacle not seen for three decades as 16 planes formed a diamond formation as they flew past.

The flyby, led by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., who is a licensed pilot, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Alexander Yano, and Air Force chief Lieutenant General Oscar Rabena, marked the maiden flight of 15 T-41 Bravo Trainer Planes donated to the Philippines Air Forces by South Korea.

The 15 planes, which Teodoro had just accepted from South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Choi Joong-Kyung in a turnover ceremony, were joined by an SF-260 Marchetti to complete the 16-plane formation.

"It has been a long while na hindi natin nakita sa ere ang diamond formation na kasing laki nito [that we have not seen a diamond formation as large as this in the air]," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Alan Ballesteros said.

So long ago, in fact, that Ballesteros said the last 16-plane diamond formation before Thursday’s was that of Saber jets of the defunct 5th Fighter Wing that took off from Basa Airbase in Pampanga in the mid-1970s, when the Philippine Air Force was at the peak of its strength.

Ballesteros, who was then a training cadet in the Philippine Air Force Flying School (PAFFS) at Basa, explained that the large diamond formation symbolizes “cohesion, unity and pride.”

Thus, while the Thursday flyby was not as spectacular as the one he remembered from his cadet days, Ballesteros said he was nevertheless happy to see the diamond in the air.

"Something is happening, may naidadagdag na eroplano sa atin [our planes have increased]," he said, especially at a time when the Air Force is having difficulty training its personnel.

Teodoro, in a separate interview, acknowledged it would take a long time for the Air Force to regain its peak strength, much less acquire modern fighter aircraft.

Asked how soon he thought this would happen, he replied: "Show me the money and I'll show you as soon as possible."

Brand new, top-of-the-line attack aircraft can cost up to $83 million or P3.7 billion each, he said.

At the moment, Teodoro said what the country needs are aircraft for internal security and logistical aircraft such as helicopters and transport planes.

Besides, he added, "Wala namang bansa na gusto pang gumyera sa ibang bansa unless siguro forced-to-good na [There is no country that wants to wage war against other countries, anyway, unless forced to do so]."

But Teodoro said the planes donated by South Korea will help ease the Air Force’s three-year backlog in training its personnel, caused by a lack of trainer aircraft.

Before South Korea donated the planes, which it had decommissioned in 2007, the Air Force only had eight T-41 Bravo aircraft and could train only 58 flight students a year, Philippine Air Force spokesman Major Gerardo Zamudio said.

The donated plans will be deployed in PAFFS, now based at Fernando Air Base in Lipa, Batangas, Teodoro said.

This year, he added, the Air Force will also be acquiring 16 new SF-260 Marchetti aircraft.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

South Korea gives planes to Philippine Air Force

The Philippine military has received 15 units of T-41-B planes from South Korea, which would to train Filipino pilots on better territorial defense, the Air Force announced Wednesday.

The newly assembled planes were made by the US-based Cessna Aircraft Co. and would be used primarily to train the pool student pilots who have been waiting for months to fly an aircraft, according to a statement from the Philippine Air Force.

The aircraft were disassembled and shipped to the Philippines in December. They were re-assembled at Clark Air Base last month.

The Air Force also admitted that it did not have enough trainer planes to accommodate all its student pilots, as the military only has eight operational Cessna planes.

“Actually, it will speed up the training and ease the backlog in the training of students,” Air Force spokesman Gerardo Zamudio told reporters also on Wednesday.

The majority of aviation schools prefer to train on the T41 Cessna plane because of its basic setup that is easy for the students to learn, according to the Air Force.

Zamudio said the delivery of the aircraft was in consonance with a Memorandum of Understanding on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement signed by the Philippines and South Korea in 1994 to enhance military cooperation.

The donation from South Korea brings to 23 the number of operational Cessna trainer planes owned by the Philippines Air Force, which aims to shift from internal security operations to territorial defense mode by 2012.

Token of friendship

Besides the new Cessna planes, the Korean government earlier donated 12 PK boats or high-speed surveillance patrol vessels, 10 PKM boats, three F-5/A aircraft, 16 buses for the Philippine Military Academy, parachutes, field telephones, Kevlar ballistic helmets, engineering equip­ments and ammunition and maintenance parts for the patrol boats.

The donations are tokens of friendship of the South Korean government to the Philippines in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of relations between the two countries. South Korean officials have also said that they have not forgotten that the Philippines dispatched 7,000 troops—including Lt. Fidel Ramos, who later became a Philippine president—to fight against the communist North Korean regime in the 1950s.

The South Korean Embassy in Manila has events lined up for the next 12 months to celebrate the 60th anniversary of relations with the Philippines. The anniversary was kicked off last week with a business forum in Manila attended by about 100 high-level government officials and business executives. The embassy also hosted a South Korean food festival and fireworks display in Manila on Tuesday night.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and the Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, are to lead the official turnover ceremony today at Clark Airbase in Pampanga. Also joining them is South Korean Ambassador Choi Jung-Kyung.

Teodoro, a certified pilot, is expected to lead pilots in a simultaneous maiden flight after the ceremonial turnover.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Inter Island Airlines to operate scheduled flights from Vigan City.

Inter Island are the long established airline in the Philippines who have been charter and air taxi services for over 20 years.
As of March 19 Inter Island Airlines are to become a scheduled carrier when they commence domestic flights from Mindoro airport in Vigan City to the capital Manila. Flights will operate on Thurs and Sunday leaving Vigan at 1600 and the return flights are on Fri and Monday departing Manila at 0615. The presence of scheduled flights to Vigan City will be a welcome tourism boost as well as creating and important air link with Manila that will be of benefit to the commercial sector.
Vigan City is a town of historic importance and is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is located on the western coast of the large island of Luzon, facing the South China Sea.
It is also is one of numerous Hispanic towns in the Philippines, and is well-known for its cobblestone streets, and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine building design, and construction with colonial European architecture.
The airline has various aircraft in its fleet and range from ten seater piston engined planes to jets with a seating capacity of close on 200 passengers.