THE International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) subjected the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to a 10-day audit last month and found 88 items which affected 278 of the so-called protocols or code of procedures.
The ICAO-Universal Safety Audit Program (USOAP) does not give "passing" or "failing" ratings, but a ratio between a given set of out of 987 questions gives CAAP a 28.19 percent grade compared to the global average of 40.31 percent.
The lower the ratio means less need for corrective actions, according to CAAP director general Ruben Ciron.
The audit team was comprised of a six-member mission led by CJ Collins, which conducted briefings Oct. 18-29.
The team covered 987 predetermined questions, aimed mostly at critical areas like Primary Legislation and Civil Aviation Regulations; Civil Aviation Organization; Personnel Licensing and Training; Aircraft Operations Certification and Supervision; Airworthiness of Aircraft; Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation; Air Navigation Service; and Aerodromes.
The USOAP audit is more comprehensive than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit which covers only the safety aspects of the then Air Transportation Office (ATO), predecessor to the CAAP.
In November 2007, the FAA downgraded the CAAP from Category 1 to Category 2 status, which prohibits Philippine carriers from mounting new flights to the United States. – Jay Chua
The CAAP is now in the process of upgrading its technical personnel to improve its safety program and improving all the other critical areas noted by the USOAP.
In another development, the Department of Foreign Affairs informed CAAP last month that Ambassador Cristina Ortega met with James Moran, director for Asia of the European Commission, to explore the availability of at least two European experts to assist CAAP in addressing the technical issues raised by the Committee on Air Safety.
Ortega also informed Ciron that the experts are set to arrive in March.
An update of the audit was likewise sent to Daniel Calleja, EC’s director of air transport, in Brussels to inform him of the substance of the draft findings and to confirm his commitment to send the certification experts and also to verify the date of the visit of the European Union Air Safety Committee.
"CAAP is now on track for the next two audits – the European Union Safety Committee and the FAA that will finally determine our eligibility for restoration to Category 1 status," Ciron said. the USOAP audit is on March 26, 2010.
A highlight in the draft finding of USOAP is the lack of qualified technical personnel which significantly handicapped the CAAP. This is because training policies cannot be executed until new and qualified technical personnel are hired.
Ciron said during a board meeting last Oct. 29, the members approved Special Plantilla of Positions to address the lack of qualified technical personnel.
"Hopefully, the new salary structure will attract qualified applicants, even as CAAP has to compete with higher salaries offered by the civil aviation labor market.