Sunday, January 31, 2010

Aviation chief: Air safety not a one-man job

MANILA, Philippines - The chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said he was not entirely to blame for the poor rating given to the country’s aviation sector by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Ruben Ciron, CAAP director general, was reacting to the CAAP-Employees Union’s pronouncement that he should take the blame for ICAO’s issuance of a significant safety concern or SSC rating on the country’s civil aviation network.

Ciron pointed out that ensuring aviation safety is not a one-man job and that it requires full cooperation of all CAAP personnel.

Ciron also lashed out at Cesar Lucero, vice president of the CAAP-EU, for pushing for his ouster.

“But with CAAP employees like Cesar Lucero - who, from day one, wanted me out of the job - the task of ensuring aviation safety in 80 CAAP-controlled airports all over the country has become doubly difficult,” he stressed.

He said he was not washing his hands of responsibility, but stressed that most of the problems plaguing CAAP - formerly the Air Transportation Office - were due to years of corruption and mismanagement.

“Ironically, these problems were accumulated during the time of previous ATO administrations which Lucero was part of,” Ciron said.

“I merely inherited the burden of repairing the damage when I was appointed director general after the CAAP law was passed in 2008. However, we encountered a lot of birth pains along the way, not to mention uncooperative staff like Lucero,” he said.

He also emphasized that ICAO does not give “pass” or “fail” marks but only “ratios” of compliance with certain protocols.

He said most of the “significant safety concerns” are being decisively addressed and properly communicated with concerned agencies. He said no less than Mohamed Elamiri, chief of the ICAO’s Safety and Security Audits Branch, acknowledged the corrective actions taken by the CAAP. Lucero earlier revealed that an electronic bulletin issued by the ICAO on Dec. 18 last year showed the Philippines among countries on the SSC list, along with Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Congo, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia.

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