Saturday, May 9, 2009

RP confident of passing FAA safety review

MANILA—The Philippines is confident it will pass a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit of its aviation safety standards, allowing the country to expand flights to US airports, an official said Friday.

Transportation Department spokesman Thompson Lantion said the creation in 2008 of a new agency, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to oversee safety standards, was a major step in reforming the aviation sector.

"We are very confident that we'll be able to achieve that (FAA approval), with all the efforts being done now," Lantion said.

He said the FAA's scheduled audit of its aviation sector would take place in October and include a check on safety and the standards of aircraft mechanics and pilots.

Lantion expressed optimism that the Philippines would return to its old status of Category 1, after the FAA in December 2007 reduced the Philippines' rating to Category 2.

At that time the FAA said the Philippines' air transport agency had failed to meet international safety standards.

This prompted the government to create a Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, with the power to collect fees to address safety issues and offer better salaries to skilled personnel.

The FAA's decision prevented the national flag-carrier, Philippine Airlines PAL, from increasing its flights to the US from 33 a week or from changing the type or number of aircraft used on those services.

Lantion said there was always the risk the Philippines would be downgraded further and its airlines would not be able to fly to US airports but was optimistic that Philippines officials could address these concerns.

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