Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Full-court press for category 1 for Naia

THE new head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) on Tuesday said he has appointed 23 technical people—check pilots, cabin crew, accident investigators, aircraft inspectors, other related positions—with 23 more later to meet the pre-requisites of international aviation-safety rules to ensure that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) regains its Category 1 rating.

The Category 1 rating means an airport meets all security and safety standards and is safe for any aircraft to use. The Naia has been downgraded to Category 2 after an International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) inspection found it deficient in many technical requirements.

Caap Director General Alfonso Cusi said new personnel will man the Flight Standard Inspectorate Service to meet the Icao flight-safety requirements and especially that of the European Union, which earlier threatened to boycott the Naia if the Philippines does not quickly raise the airport standard. “My first day in office at the Caap was spent looking at the ‘serious safety concern’ that the Icao had raised last October which I will present at the European Union in Brussels this week,” said Cusi. “I am now confident that the country would no longer be blacklisted by that aviation body.”   

He is scheduled to brief Daniel Calleja, the European Union director general for transportation and energy, on what had been achieved by the agency in compliance with their safety concerns aired by the Icao audit team last October 2009. Cusi flew to Brussels on Tuesday for the crucial meeting.

Air-safety certification review

IN this connection, Cusi said his office had issued an advisory to all airline companies that all who had not been certified by the aviation body in compliance with the Civil Air Regulations would no longer be allowed to fly starting December 2010. “Republic Act 9497 creating the Caap had ruled that all airlines must comply.”  

Among the rules these air carriers must follow in order to continue flying is to have airworthiness certifications of all their airliners. Furthermore, all of their pilots must be qualified, and they must have the proper facilities such as repair shops, training program and servicing facilities.

Deputy Director Eduardo Kapunan said that every year, all air carriers undergo this certification; at present the country has some 1,400 registered aircraft.

He added that due to the sad experience of an air carrier being involved in several accidents, the Caap has now added a stipulation that the airline companies must also have a “Safety Management System,” meaning, they must have operation manuals, written flight-safety standards and other safety-related systems.

On top of that, the Icao has required that, in order to pass certification, an aircraft must also have the approval of the Joint Aviation Regulation, which is the Caap’s counterpart in the European Union. Their aircraft must also have been certified by the United States and Canada.

This means that European, Canadian or American-made aircraft have a greater chance of getting through the certification, rather than those made elsewhere, such as the Chinese-made MA-60 and the LET 410 made by the Czech Republic.

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