Thursday, March 11, 2010

RP faces Icao audit in bid to regain ‘1’ status

WITH the threat that Philippine airports may be blacklisted by the European community, newly appointed Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Alfonso Cusi is scrambling to head for Brussels, Belgium, on March 15 to be able to attend a critical audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao).

It should have been Ruben Ciron who was to attend until he was replaced by Cusi on Tuesday and, for a while, there was no information on plans of the new chief in attendance at the audit, which would show whether Philippine aviation can be lifted back to Category 1 from Category 2.

Now, taking along top flight-safety advisers and executives of the country’s three major airlines, Cusi is heading for Brussels, saying it would be a great loss if the Philippines is blacklisted by the European Union (EU) for failing to attend the audit from March 15 to 19.

“Our aviation has been downgraded by FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] to Category 2 and it means really bad for all of us. If we are blacklisted, that means that we are disconnecting ourselves [from] the air routes or air highways for our trade and developments,” he said in a press briefing.

To prepare him for the meeting, Cusi was briefed on Wednesday by Eduardo Batac, director of the Flight Service Inspectorate Service and chairman of the International Audit Preparedness Task Force.  

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

Batac said that although the Philippines does not fly to Europe at the moment, there are many Europeans who come as tourists or businessmen and so the EU is concerned about their safety.

One of the things brought up by the US FAA, the Icao and the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program of the EU is the “inability of the Philippines to recruit and retain qualified technical personnel.”

“In the past some highly trained technical personnel were recruited but left for greener pastures,” said Batac.

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