Friday, March 19, 2010

CAAP to invite EU committee to conduct RP safety inspection

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) hopes to demonstrate the country’s commitment to improved air safety oversight by inviting the European Union Air Safety Committee (EU-ASC) to conduct its own Safety Inspection of the national aviation system, according to Director General Alfonso Cusi.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) downgraded the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 in November 2007 after the then Air Transportation Office (ATO) received unfavorable review under FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment.

Despite the passage of a new law that created CAAP and replaced the former ATO in 2007, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) still raised a Significant Safety Concern (SSC) on the Philippines last year.

This led to the invitation by the EU-ASC to a conference in Brussels this week which many observers deemed as notice that the Philippines would likely be blacklisted by the European Commission (EC).

“We are actually on a mission here. We hope that we can convince them that the Philippine aviation system is safe and that it is not necessary for them to blacklist us,” Cusi declared.

“It will be detrimental to the Philippine economy if we are disconnected from this very important trade and commercial route because of a blacklist.” The new CAAP chief has also ordered heightened surveillance inspection of air operators conducting international flights and other measures to address air safety concerns barely a week since his appointment.

“There is urgency in our current position to demonstrate that we have strong oversight of the air carriers active in the Philippines and that our regulations and practices are aligned with international civil aviation standards,” he stressed. He called for the immediate hiring of 47 qualified technical personnel for the Flight Standards Inspectorate Service and the issuance of an order that will ground air operators who are not certified by December 1, 2010.

He also sought the assistance of the Civil Service Commission for the immediate approval of the Minimum Quality Standards for the needed technical staff.

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