Thursday, February 25, 2010

Manila’s air safety rating seen raised by end-June

THE Philippines expects the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to upgrade Manila’s aviation safety standards in the second quarter of the year.
Ruben Ciron, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general, told reporters that the FAA would upgrade the country’s rating from Category 1 to Category 2.
The Philippine rating was downgraded in December 2007.

Category 2 means the country’s civil aviation authorities do not provide safety oversight of its air carriers in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world.

Among the FAA’s concerns were outdated aviation regulations, poor training programs for safety inspectors, and sub-standard licensing for airframe and engine inspectors.

“We are going to invite them by March or April for initial technical review then we will invite the group for the inspection proper,” Ciron said.

He said other requirements such as the Air Traffic Services, Air Navigation Services and Air Development Management Services had passed the FAA standard.

“But, the problem when the audit was held in October [last year] was that we do not have yet the qualified technical personnel,” he said.

The CAAP head said the agency expects the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to approve the hiring standards for the Flight Standard Inspectorate Service by March or April.

Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) had said the downgrade put off its plan to open services to San Diego, Chicago, New York and Saipan.

Under Category 2, PAL is prohibited from increasing its 33 flights a week to the US and its territories, as well as from changing the type or increasing the number of aircraft used on these routes.

PAL’s operations to the US mainland account for 30 percent of its total revenue. The airline flies to Los Angeles 11 times a week, to San Francisco nine times, to Las Vegas via Vancouver five, to Honolulu three and to Guam five.

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