Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7107 Islands - Philippines, what a GREAT Place ..

Air disasters timeline

A chronology of some of the world's recent air disasters:


28 July: An Airblue plane with more than 150 people on board crashes in hills north of Pakistan's capital Islamabad. Police say it was a flight from the southern city of Karachi. It was not immediately known if there were any survivors.

22 May: An Air India Express Boeing 737 overshot a hilltop airport in Mangalore, southern India, and crashed into a valley, bursting into flames and killing 158.

12 May: An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330 crashes while trying to land near Tripoli airport in Libya, killing more than 100 people.

10 April: A Tupolev 154 plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski crashes near the Russian airport of Smolensk, killing more than 90 people on board.

25 January: Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet crashes into the sea with 89 people on board shortly after take-off from Beirut.


15 July: A Caspian Airlines Tupolev plane crashes in the north of Iran en route to Armenia. All 168 passengers and crew are reported dead.

30 June: A Yemeni passenger plane, an Airbus 310, crashes in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros archipelago. Only one of the 153 people on board survives.

1 June: An Air France Airbus 330 travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashes into the Atlantic with 228 people on board. Search teams later recover some 50 bodies in the ocean.

20 May: An Indonesian army C-130 Hercules transport plane crashes into a village on eastern Java, killing at least 97 people.

6 April: An Indonesian army Fokker-27 crashes on landing near Bandung, West Java, killing 24 people.

25 February: A flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam crashes short of the runway at Schiphol international airport. Of the 135 people on board, nine are killed and at least 50 injured.

12 February: A passenger plane crashes into a house in Buffalo, New York,killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

8 February: A passenger plane crashes into a river in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, killing 24 people, most of whom were from the same family.


14 September: A Boeing-737 crashes on landing near the central Russian city of Perm, killing all 88 passengers and crew members on board.

24 August: A passenger plane crashes shortly after take-off from Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, killing 68 people.

20 August: A Spanair plane veers off the runway on take-off at Madrid's Barajas airport, killing 154 people and injuring 18.

2 May: South Sudan's defence minister is among 22 people killed after engine trouble causes a plane carrying a military delegation to crash about 400km (250 miles) west of Juba.

15 April: Some 40 people die when a DC-9 skids off the runway while attempting to take off in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma during heavy rain, smashing through a wall and into a busy residential area.

24 January:Nineteen people die when a Polish Casa C-295M military transport plane crashes in the country's north-west, carrying officials who had attended an air safety conference.


30 November: All 56 people on board an Atlasjet flight are killed when it crashes near the town of Keciborlu in the mountainous Isparta province, about 12km (7.5 miles) from Isparta airport.

16 September: At least 87 people are killed after a One-Two-Go plane crashed on landing in bad weather at the Thai resort of Phuket.

17 July: A TAM Airlines jet crashes on landing at Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo, in Brazil's worst-ever air disaster. A total of 199 people are killed - all 186 on board and 13 on the ground.

5 May: A Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 crashes in swampland in southern Cameroon, killing all 114 on board. The official inquiry is yet to report on the cause of the disaster.

7 March: An Indonesian jet crashed and burst into flames on landing at Yogyakarta airport in Java, killing 22 people. The state-owned Garuda airline, which operated the Boeing 737-400, said that 118 people had survived.

1 January: An Adam Air Boeing 737-400 carrying 102 passengers and crew comes down in mountains on Sulawesi Island on a domestic Indonesian flight. All on board are presumed dead.


29 September: A Boeing 737 carrying 154 passengers and crew crashed into the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, killing all on board, after colliding with a private jet in mid-air.

27 August: A Comair CRJ-100 jet goes down shortly after taking off from Lexington in the US state of Kentucky, killing 49 people.

22 August: A Russian Tupolev-154 passenger plane with 170 people on board crashes north of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

9 July: A Russian S7 Airbus A-310 skids off the runway during landing at Irkutsk airport in Siberia. A total of 124 people on board die, but more than 50 survive the crash.

3 May: An Armavia Airbus A-320 crashes into the Black Sea near Sochi, killing all 113 people on board.


10 December: A Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 crashes in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, killing 103 people on board.

6 December: A C-130 military transport plane crashes on the outskirts of the Iranian capital Tehran, killing 110 people, including some on the ground.

22 October: A Bellview airlines Boeing 737 carrying 117 people on board crashes soon after take-off from the Nigerian city of Lagos, killing everyone on board.

5 September: A Mandala Airlines plane with 112 passengers and five crew on board crashes after take-off in the Indonesian city of Medan, killing almost all on board and dozens on the ground.

23 August: A Tans airline Boeing 737-200 crashes on an internal flight in Peru, near the city of Pucallpa. There are 40 people reported dead and 58 survivors.

16 August: A Colombian plane operated by West Caribbean Airways crashes in a remote region of Venezuela, killing all 160 people on board. The airliner, heading from Panama to Martinique, was packed with residents of the Caribbean island.

14 August: A Helios Airways flight from Cyprus to Prague with 121 people on board crashes north of the Greek capital Athens, apparently after a drop in cabin pressure.

16 July: An Equatair plane crashes soon after take-off from Equatorial Guinea's island capital, Malabo, west of the mainland, killing all 60 people on board.

3 February: The wreckage of Kam Air Boeing 737 flight is located in high mountains near the Afghan capital Kabul, two days after the plane vanished from radar screens in heavy snowstorms. All 104 people on board are feared dead.


21 November: A passenger plane crashes into a frozen lake near the city of Baotou in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground, officials say.

3 January: An Egyptian charter plane belonging to Flash Airlines crashes into the Red Sea, killing all 141 people on board. Most of the passengers are thought to be French tourists.


25 December: A Boeing 727 crashes soon after take-off from the West African state of Benin, killing at least 135 people en route to Lebanon.

8 July: A Boeing 737 crashes in Sudan shortly after take-off, killing 115 people on board. Only one passenger, a small child survived.

26 May: A Ukrainian Yak-42 crashes near the Black Sea resort of Trabzon in north-west Turkey, killing all 74 people on board - most of them Spanish peacekeepers returning home from Afghanistan.

8 May: As many as 170 people are reported dead in DR Congo after the rear ramp of an old Soviet plane, an Ilyushin 76 cargo plane, apparently falls off, sucking them out.

6 March: An Algerian Boeing 737 crashes after taking off from the remote Tamanrasset airport, leaving up to 102 people dead.

19 February: An Iranian military transport aircraft carrying 276 people crashes in the south of the country, killing all on board.

8 January: A Turkish Airlines plane with 76 passengers and crew on board crashes while coming in to land at Diyarbakir.


23 December: An Antonov 140 commuter plane carrying aerospace experts crashes in central Iran, killing all 46 people aboard. The delegation had been due to review an Iranian version of the same plane built under licence.

27 July:A fighter jet crashes into a crowd of spectators in the west Ukrainian town of Lviv, killing 77 people, in what is the world's worst air show disaster.

1 July: Seventy-one people, many of them children die when a Russian Tupolev 154 aircraft on a school trip to Spain collides with a Boeing 757 transport plane over southern Germany.

25 May: A Boeing 747 belonging to Taiwan's national carrier - China Airlines - crashes into the sea near the Taiwanese island of Penghu, with 225 passengers and crew on board.

7 May:China Northern Airlines plane carrying 112 people crashes into the sea near Dalian in north-east China.

7 May: On the same day, an EgyptAir Boeing 735 crash lands near Tunis with 55 passengers and up to 10 crew on board. Most people survive.

4 May: A BAC1-11-500 plane operated by EAS Airlines crashes in the Nigerian city of Kano, killing 148 people - half of them on the ground.

15 April:Air China flight 129 crashes on its approach to Pusan, South Korea, with over 160 passengers and crew on board.

12 February: A Tupolev 154 operated by Iran Air crashes in mountains in the west of Iran, killing all 117 on board.

29 January: A Boeing 727 from the Ecuadorean TAME airline crashes in mountains in Colombia, killing 92 people.


12 November: An American Airlines A-300 bound for the Dominican Republic crashes after takeoff in a residential area of the borough of Queens, New York, killing all 260 people on board and at least five people on the ground.

8 October: A Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) airliner collides with a small plane in heavy fog on the runway at Milan's Linate airport, killing 118 people.

4 October: A Russian Sibir Airlines Tupolev 154,en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in Siberia, explodes in mid-air and crashes into the Black Sea, killing 78 passengers and crew.

3 July: A Russian Tupolev 154,en route from Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains to the Russian port of Vladivostok, crashes near the Siberian city of Irkutsk, killing 133 passengers and 10 crew.


30 October: A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 bound for Los Angeles crashes after take-off from Taipei airport in Taiwan, killing 78 of the 179 people on board.

23 August:A Gulf Air Airbus crashes into the sea as it comes in to land in Bahrain, killing all 143 people on board.

25 July:Air France Concorde Air France Concorde en route for New York crashes into a hotel outside Paris shortly after takeoff, killing 113 people, including four on the ground.

17 July:Alliance Air Boeing 737-200 crashes into houses attempting to land at Patna, India, killing 51 people on board and four on the ground.

19 April:Air Philippines Boeing 737-200 from Manila to Davao crashes on approach to landing, killing all 131 people on board.

31 January:Alaska Airlines MD-83 from Mexico to San Francisco plunges into ocean off southern California, killing all 88 people on board.

30 January:Kenya Airways A-310 crashes into Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, en route for Lagos, Nigeria. All but 10 of the 179 people on board die.


31 October:EgyptAir Boeing 767 crashes into Atlantic Ocean after taking off from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on flight to Cairo, Egypt, killing all 217 on board.

24 February:China Southwest Airlines plane crashes in a field in China's coastal Zhejiang province after a mid-air explosion. All 61 people on board the Russian-built TU-154 flying from Chongqing to the south-eastern city of Wenzhou are killed.


11 December:Thai Airways International A-310 crashes on a domestic flight during its third attempt to land at Surat Thani, Thailand, killing 101 people.

2 September:Swissair MD-11 from New York to Geneva crashes in the Atlantic Ocean off Canada killing all 229 people on board.

16 February: Airbus A-300 owned by Taiwan's China Airlines crashes near Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek airport while trying to land in fog and rain after a flight from Bali, Indonesia. All 196 on board and seven people on ground are killed.

2 February:Cebu Pacific Air DC-9 crashes into mountain in southern Philippines, killing all 104 people aboard.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

CAAP goes after Fake PIlots

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is bent on closing down aviation schools that are turning into diploma mills for pilots.

Captain Raul Trinidad, technical adviser of the office of the director general of the CAAP, said “we will audit all flying schools. If we find them not compliant, we will investigate and suspend them. If we find them to be a diploma mill, we’re going to close them down.”

He said CAAP made the move after finding out recently that some students and private pilots are using fake licenses.

Upon closer inspection, these licenses had been obtained via fabricated certificates containing “extraordinary” examination results, he said.

One pilot who the CAAP is currently investigating, a foreign national, submitted a certification that contained the results of 8 examinations taken in only a day.

The pilot supposedly passed all 8 exams the first time, all with the grade of 80%--an extraordinary fete, he said. A student can only take about 3 to 4 exams a day.

Upon prodding, CAAP found out the exams were not held at all during the dates contained in the certification, he said.

Trinidad said CAAP is now closely coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track down the culprits behind the fake licenses and certifications.

Around 4 to 5 are already being questioned, he said.

Trinidad said 3 audit teams, which he heads, have already been working for 3 weeks now. One is currently in Cebu, he said.


He said there are at least 63 aviations schools across the country, which will make it hard for the teams to complete the process immediately.

Trinidad, however, noted that the schools have been very cooperative.

He admitted this issue has been a cause of embarrassment, which buttresses the Significant Safety Concern (SSC) advice the country has received from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in November 6, 2009.

ICAO is an agency of the United Nations that systematizes rules and principles to ensure safety and growth in international air navigation.

ICAO specifically said the SSC advice is due to the “lack of plan for certifying air operators in accordance with the Civil Aviation Regulations of 2008, as well as the lack of surveillance inspections of air operators and the aviation industry as a whole.”

Trinidad said CAAP’s action is only meant to “bring back the integrity of the Filipino pilot’s license.”

He appealed to first-time and private pilots to go directly to CAAP to have their licenses assessed.

“We don’t want to resort to finger-pointing. What we’re doing, as their licenses go through us, we will scrutinize,” Trinidad said.

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RP Hopes high on lifting of EU ban on 2 carriers

Monday, 19 July 2010 22:36

THE International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) has responded positively to the plans submitted by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) to address the organization’s “significant safety concerns,” paving the way for the lifting of the ban on at least two of the Philippines’ major carriers in flying to Europe.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific (CEB), along with seven other major carriers were blacklisted by the European Union (EU) following a safety audit conducted by the Icao in October 2009, so that they were unable to service the route to Europe.

The Icao noted the Philippines “lacks a plan for certifying air operators in accordance with regulations, as well as the lack of inspectors in the whole aviation industry as a whole.”

Since PAL and CEB do not fly to Europe at the moment, Europeans were advised by their governments not to patronize the local carriers when visiting the country either as tourists or businessmen.

Addressing these concerns, Director General Alfonso Cusi of the Caap submitted a “corrective action plan” within two months of his appointment in March 2010, which was run through the Icao safety oversight audit “and was found to fully address most of the findings and recommendations contained in the report.”

“This is very positive development since this will pave the way for the lifting of significant safety concerns, hopefully the first step toward redeeming category 1 status,” said Cusi in a press conference. “What we’re asking is just a partial lifting because what we wanted is for PAL and CEB to be out of the blacklist and for the government to continue the effort in making the necessary reforms in our civil aviation.”

Asked when the country would be able to get back to category 1 status, Cusi said the process is lengthy because the aviation agency has to address three main concerns—the earlier downgrading by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Icao safety concerns and the EU blacklisting.

Cusi said the three agencies have common concerns. “So all of these have a commonality and they are all anchored on safety, on the ability of the government to carry out its functions. Once we get the Icao positively acting on our correction plan, then it will open the door for the FAA and the EU.”

He said that meantime, the Caap would adopt a three-pronged approach, such as persuading the EU to partly lift its ban, addressing the Icao safety concerns, and those of the FAA.

In fairness to the past administration, Cusi said Ruben Ciron had prepared a similar corrective action but that under his term they added some more requirements because there were questions about the integrity of the previous work.

To avoid complications, he said the Caap revised the whole plan and submitted a corrected one “together with the things we have done from time we assumed office in March until April 19.”

He said the Icao immediately noted the Caap suspension slapped on the Pacific East Asia Courier (Peac) and the recertification of 49 small air carriers, the ongoing investigation of bogus pilot’s licenses and fake certificates and others. “So all of those things were taken into account and now the Icao reply arrived, accepting positively the things that we have done and the plans that we have submitted.”

Cusi added that all other requirements would be submitted within next 30 days so that in a few weeks, Icao representatives could visit to inspect the Caap, while the EU representatives would follow shortly.

The EU representatives will audit PAL and CEB, the focus of their attention, and such could lead to their recertification as safe to be used by Europeans. After the EU visit, they will have a gathering in October and hopefully, the Philippine case would be taken up and a decision would follow.

“If the Philippine issue is taken up in October, then a decision will be issued by then; hopefully before the end of October we will know if we can have a partial lifting,” said Cusi.

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CAAP sacks 170 consultants

Posted at 04/11/2010 1:20 AM

The chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has sacked all of about 170 consultants of the aviation body; appointed scores of new check pilots, airworthiness inspectors, cabin crew inspectors and other technical positions; and is in the process of awarding new titles to “organic” personnel.

Aviation Director General Alfonso Cusi said that the move is intended to speed up the recovery of the aviation body, which is smarting from the blacklisting by the European Commission (EC).

The European Union (EU) has banned Philippine air carriers from flying into Europe, but since there are no Philippine aircraft that go to Europe anymore, the EU’s move had caused “an alarming number of tour cancellations from Europe,” according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Last March 31, the EU included the Philippines in its 13th updated list of countries banned from that region’s airspace as a precautionary step based on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) downgrading of the country’s safety rating to Category 2 and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (Icao) concern on aviation safety regulators.

Cusi said that despite two years that the former Air Transportation Office (Ato) has morphed into a corporatize entity, not much has been done by way of upgrading technical personnel and attending to the salary structure that has long been promised to the employees, especially the air traffic controllers, airways navigation specialists and communication specialists.

There are about 360 air controllers, some 700 navigation specialists and 600 communicators, according to Director Willy Borja, chief of the Air Traffic Services Division.

At the rate things are moving, airport insiders said that it would still take about from one to two years before the country is restored from Category 2 to Category 1 status.

Cusi, who assumed the post last month from retired general Ruben F. Ciron, said that he is also prodding the smaller aircraft operators to make sure that proper maintenance procedures, duly approved and warranted by the manufacturers, are presented to CAAP experts for evaluation.

He said that the CAAP is not targeting Zest Air alone, which figured in three mishaps with their Chinese-made A60 turbo-prop aircraft, but also the general aviation sector, which engages in air charter, air taxi operation, flying schools and other private-run air carriers.

“The CAAP will audit the respective airline firms, and apply other means of surveillance because we wanted to make sure that rules are being followed,” he said.

Cusi added that the CAAP is doing its best to make safety considerations prevail, “not just because it is a requirement or international practice, but our aim is to protect the lives of the flying public.”

He said that come December 2010, those that did not comply and could not present a Certificate of Compliance, and not the Air Operators Certificate which is no longer recognized by the new Civil Air Regulations (CAR), would no longer be granted the authority to operate out of the country.

“For an air carrier to earn that COC, it has to observe a high level of maintenance procedure, that the proper personnel are employed and there is an existing organization to look after these things,” Cusi said. “We want to assure the public that the CAAP is doing everything to make our air navigation safer.”

In the wake of these developments, Philippine Airlines (PAL) came out with a statement, saying that they “regretfully acknowledge the negative effect of the recent European Union ban on Philippine carriers particularly on the marketing arrangement between PAL and KLM.”

PAL has a code-sharing arrangement with the Dutch airliner KLM.

KLM manager Ma Lourdes Reyes, however, said that the cancellation of tours to the Philippines is simply a problem of their marketing department.

“PAL looks forward to next month’s visit of the EU delegation that will conduct an audit of the safety compliance of local airlines and the country’s aviation regulatory agency,” the airline said in a statement to the BusinessMirror.

“We intend to demonstrate in detail to the EU audit team our safety track record and adherence to safety standards in all levels of our operations, in order to be removed from the EU blacklist soonest,” the PAL statement said.

PAL added that the EU ban stems from the safety concerns raised by the ICAO and the US FAA on the country’s aviation regulatory agency and not on PAL.

Last month, Cusi, together with executives of PAL and Cebu Pacific, went to Brussels to present the changes and innovations that the CAAP had achieved since it was subjected to an audit by the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program of the EC.

One of the EC findings is the “lack of significant safety concern” by the CAAP, which actually means the dearth of check pilots and other technical personnel to make the CAAP attain the world standard mandated by the ICAO.

The CAAP even extended an invitation to the 27-member EC to come to the Philippines and see for themselves how the aviation body fared in its assessment.

Cusi, however, admitted that the CAAP still lacks all that is required by the EC and the ICAO to be able to get back to Category 1 status.

Cusi was careful not to criticize his predecessor, saying that it was their judgment call to put the proper personnel and procedure in place in an attempt to upgrade the CAAP.

However, he admitted that after two years since the defunct ATO was made into a corporate entity that is the CAAP, not much headway was made in upgrading personnel, hiring technical people and addressing various concerns earlier raised by the FAA and the EC branch of the ICAO.

This was brought in part by the meddling of the Department of Budget Management (DBM), which dictates to the CAAP the salary structure to be implemented among its 3,500 personnel.

The issue was brought to clear focus by retired general Melchor Rosales, who sits on the seven-member CAAP board of directors as representative of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

During two previous meetings, Rosales had asked the CAAP lawyers to clarify the status of the aviation body since Republic Act 9497 that created it clearly indicates that the CAAP is an autonomous, independent body which can disburse and raise its own funds without remitting its income to the national coffers.

“So long as the board approves any moves of the CAAP vis-à-vis the salary structure of its personnel, I don’t think the DBM has any reason to meddle in the aviation body’s affairs,” Rosales said. He even suggests that the monetary body’s meddling has delayed the salary-raise implemention.

An observation heard among DBM executives is that some CAAP personnel receive salaries much higher than theirs.

Now, Cusi, learning from the mistakes of the past, has moved the CAAP as an independent body and is no longer dependent on the DBM on deciding what salary level to give to technical people.

The blacklisting by the EC of its citizens going to the Philippines has worried the tourism department over the loss of potential income and market.

The latest news says that major European travel operators from Gemany, the UK and France have informed the DOT about the cancellations of their bookings to the Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano was quoted as saying that “the longer we remain in the blacklist, the harder it would be for us to recover from this significant loss of business in the third and fourth quarters.”

PAL is banking on the country’s return to the US Category 1 aviation safety rating to hike revenues in the coming years.

PAL president Jaime J. Bautista told reporters at the sidelines of the airline’s 69th anniversary that the company is expecting to break even in the coming 2010-2011 fiscal year, but said aviation safety issues plaguing the country can be resolved soon.

“It’s only on the condition that we should be able to fly to the United States as soon as possible with our new [Boeing] 777 that we will not get a third year of loss. But for the coming year income is not contingent on the category,” said Bautista.

The EU committee brings together air safety experts from all the 27 EU member-states, as well as from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, EASA and Eurocontrol.

According to the EC Delegation in Manila, Cusi participated in that meeting, wherein he informed the committee of the steps taken to redress the safety performance of the Philippines —at least since his appointment in March.

PAL and Cebu Pacific senior representatives, who were also in the meeting, briefed the committee on their respective measures to enhance travel safety, the EC added.

Cusi said, “Even if the Philippines is listed by the EU, it does not mean that Philippine carriers are unsafe.”

”In announcing its decision, the EC noted that the immediate concrete actions taken by the new management of CAAP demonstrated the willingness of the Philippines to address quickly the identified safety deficiencies, and to pave the way for their successful resolution without delay,” said Alistair MacDonald, EC ambassador to Manila.

The Philippine News Agency quoted MacDonald as saying that “the European Commission has been in discussion on these matters with the CAAP since April 2008 and acknowledges the recent efforts launched by the CAAP to reform the civil aviation system in the Philippines.”

The EC also recognizes the measures taken by PAL and Cebu Pacific to ensure the safety of their operations. It added that Brussels was prepared to send a delegation of safety experts to visit Manila.

Still, both CAAP’s inability “to implement and enforce” the relevant safety standards and ICAO’s “significant safety concern” bore significantly on the EU’s decision, according to MacDonald.

“In view of the significant safety concerns identified by ICAO in relation to the supervisory authority and pending the implementation of adequate corrective actions, including those drawn up in response to our concerns in 2008 but not yet implemented, the commission considers that the supervisory authority is currently not able to implement and enforce the relevant safety standards, and decided therefore to ban from EU airspace all air carriers licensed in the Philippines until these deficiencies are corrected,” MacDonald said.

In a statement, the EC Delegation in Manila said the commission “confirmed also that it is ready to support the efforts of the Philippines wherever possible and is ready to examine any information demonstrating progress in the implementation of corrective actions and compliance with international safety standards.”

”This support could include an expert visit to review the safety performance of the major operators and the oversight exercised by the CAAP, with a view to reconsidering the operating ban in the near future.

Except for partial restrictions on North Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia are the only Asian countries banned from EU airspace. The Philippines joins 16 other mostly African countries, with a total 278 airlines, blacklisted.

While Cusi is emphatic in imposing the CAR among the small players in the country, there are several hurdles that the carriers have to overcome if they hope to be certified by the CAAP. These include possession of an airworthiness certification; qualification of all of pilots; and the proper facilities such as repair shops, training programs and servicing facilities.

As this developed, Cusi has ordered the immediate hiring of 47 qualified technical personnel for the Flight Standards Inspectorate Service—the one other hurdle for international certification.

He said that the standardization of the new corporation is meant to ensure that the aviation body would be on a par with international safety standards.

“The task is daunting but I am confident we will surpass the challenges that the CAAP is now facing,” Cusi stressed.

The only airline registered and which flew in and out of the EU was PAL, but it hasn’t flown to the continent since 1999.

Despite the unfortunate inclusion of PAL and all other local carriers in the EC’s blacklist—a direct consequence of the downgrade of the Philippine government’s aviation safety rating—PAL has assured the riding public that safety remains the bedrock of its operations. It has always been the flag carrier’s policy to ensure that its passengers fly with the full assurance of safety and comfort.

PAL lamented that the EC decision came about notwithstanding PAL’s safety record, as borne out by its compliance with internationally accepted safety standards, including the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and audits by major foreign aviation regulatory authorities. For four consecutive years since 2006, PAL has been the only IOSA-certified Philippine carrier.

Two recent events led to the inclusion of Philippine carriers in the EC ban, namely, the US FAA’s decision in January 2008 to downgrade the Philippines’ safety rating to Category 2; and the “significant safety concern” alert issued by the ICAO in November 2009 against Philippine aviation safety regulators.

Despite the Philippines’ Category 2 rating, it must be noted that the US FAA continues to allow PAL to operate up to 33 regular weekly flights from the Philippines to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Las Vegas and Guam. PAL said it safely flies thousands of passengers, including US citizens, across the Pacific Ocean on a regular and reliable basis in compliance with stringent US safety regulations.

PAL welcomed the EC Air Safety Committee’s decision to visit the Philippines so that, besides Philippine aviation regulators, it can also inspect and audit local carriers.

The airline said it is prepared for such audit and is confident that EC inspectors will find PAL as a world-class carrier of uncompromising professionalism and efficiency.

PAL is also ready to lend a hand to the CAAP, especially to its new director general, Cusi, as the agency strives to professionalize its ranks and regain its international safety rating.

Since 2006, PAL has been complying with the IOSA program, which is ISO 9001:2000 certified. It is a rigorous audit focusing on the entire operational management and control systems of an airline in promoting safety, based on internationally recognized standards and supported by a strict quality assurance process.

These IOSA standards are derived from relevant Icao guidelines, in particular, Annexes 1, 6 and 8, as well as from the regulations of the US FAA and the Joint Aviation Authorities of Europe, as well as industry best practices.

Moreover, regular maintenance of the PAL fleet is undertaken by Lufthansa Technik Philippines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG of Germany, the world’s leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul services for commercial aircraft, engines and components.

Low-cost carrier Airphil Express continues to assure its passengers and the riding public that flying by air is still one of the safest modes of transportation in the Philippines.

Airphil Express issued the statement amid the recent decision by the EC to ban all Philippine carriers from flying to the EU.

“While no Philippine carrier currently flies to any point in Europe, we wish to assure the riding public that our planes are well-maintained and adhere to a strict maintenance policy that puts a premium on passenger comfort and safety,” said Airphil Express president David Lim

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Philippines' airlines banned from entering EU airspace starting April 1

Mar. 31 2010 - 12:08 pm

All airlines from the Philippines will be banned from entering the European Union airspace starting April 1.

A statement from the office EU Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald said the European Commission's decision came after "the announcement by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in October 2009 of a Significant Safety Concern relating to the oversight functions carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and on the earlier downgrading of the Philippines' safety rating by the US Federal Aviation Administration."

It said that the decision by the European Commission "reflected the unanimous opinion" of the EU's Air Safety Committee at its meeting in Brussels on March 17-19.

MacDonald said, "The European Commission has been in discussion on these matters with the CAAP since April 2008, and acknowledges the recent efforts launched by the CAAP to reform the civil aviation system in the Philippines and the steps undertaken to address the safety deficiencies reported by FAA and ICAO. The Commission also recognises the measures taken by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to ensure the safety of their operations."

MacDonald added, "In view of the Significant Safety Concern identified by ICAO in relation to the supervisory authority and pending the implementation of adequate corrective actions, including those drawn up in response to our concerns in 2008 but not yet implemented, the Commission considers that the supervisory authority is currently not able to implement and enforce the relevant safety standards, and decided therefore to ban from EU airspace all air carriers licensed in the Philippines until these deficiencies are corrected."

The Philippines' government and the national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) have not issued a statement on this development.

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Caap asks ICAO to lift safety concern

Saturday, 08 May 2010 19:59

After appointing close to 50 check pilots and other technical personnel, and giving the green light to some local air carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has formally asked the International Civil Aviation Authority Organization (Icao) to lift the Serious Safety Concern (SSC) status slapped on the Philippines.

“I believe that CAAP has fully completed all the requirements imposed by the regulatory body,” CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi said.

Since assuming the top CAAP post early this year, Cusi had also appointed scores of airworthiness inspectors, cabin-crew inspectors and had formed a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to certify that some smaller airline companies have complied with the Civil Air Regulations (CAR) issued in 2008.

Cusi has also started auditing some airline companies to make sure that they have a certificate of compliance (COC) under the new CAR.

Airlines unable to fully comply have until December this year to abide by the new rules.

Cusi said that for an air carrier to earn a COC, it has to observe a high level of maintenance procedure, and that the proper personnel are employed.

In October 2009, after a 10-day audit, the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program of the Icao found the country’s aviation body to be sorely lacking in technical personnel.

It gave the CAAP six months to comply with its requirements. The move was allegedly a precautionary step based on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) downgrading of the country’s safety rating to Category 2 and the Icao’s concern on aviation-safety regulators.

Early this year Cusi and some top executives of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific went to Brussels to show the European Commission (EC) that the CAAP had complied with its list of SSC.

Cusi invited the EC members to visit the Philippines and see for themselves the improvements of the aviation sector and how it dealt with the SSC properly.

In March, however, the EC included the Philippines in its 13th updated list of countries together with other carries, banned from Europe’s airspace.

Since then, Cusi had sped up the reforms at the CAAP and now believes that he had fully complied with the Icao’s requirements.

In conformity with the CAP, the CAAP has already certified nine of the 10 major air operators conducting international flight operations. It has also completed the surveillance inspections of the nine air operators conducting international flight operations.

Of the 39 small domestic air operators variously engaged as domestic taxis, chartered and aerial works utilizing aircraft with 19 passengers or less, CAAP has certified 14 operators.

Eighteen local air carriers have a definite deadline, until December 1, 2010, to complete their certification process,  “otherwise their operations will be suspended,” Cusi said.

Effective March 15, the CAAP has hired 50 Icao-trained “Qualified Technical Personnel” for the Flight Standard Inspectorate Services, the office responsible for safety oversight of air operators.

These inspectors are now conducting surveillance inspections, including post certification audits of all air operators under the close supervision and guidance of the resident Icao experts.

“We have been working hard for this for the last two months now and we believe that now is the right time, we are ready,” Cusi said.  R. Mercene

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ICAO classifies RP as a significant safety concern along with 10 countries

Posted February 8, 2010, 2:45pm

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has classified the Philippines, together with 10 other countries - Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Congo, Djibouti, Kazhakstan, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia as a “Significant Safety Concern” in the past two months because to date the government has not resolved issues to ensure that its air safety oversight and security systems are in place.

The information was published in the ICAO electronic bulletin dated December 18, 2009, “Posting of a Significant safety concern Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP) Philippines.”

This does not bode well for the Philippines, which up to now has not been able to get out of the United States Federal Aviation Administration Category 2 listing due to inadequate safety standards. For this reason, local carriers such as the Philippine Airlines (PAL) cannot expand their operations in the US to date.

Now, the country’s failure to resolve USOAP concerns may make more tourists think twice about visiting the Philippines at this time when travelers are most concerned about airline safety.

The year 2009 had been a bad for aviation fatalities, with almost a thousand people killed in 16 or more crashes around the world.

Hence, international watchdogs want to know if the aviation infrastructure of countries are at par by counting the number of inspectors watching over airlines, assessing air-traffic-control procedures, evaluating funding as well as the legal authority of aviation regulators, among other factors.

Specifically, ICAO created its audit programs to promote global aviation safety and security. The Universal SOAP (USOAP) audits, which started in 1999, focus on each member country’s capability for providing safety oversight so that the travelling public can make an informed decision when using air transportation.

They call for mandatory audits of the safety oversight systems in all Contracting States, such as the Philippines, assess whether critical elements have been implemented and identify deficiencies which should be corrected. Follow-up visits are done to confirm whether the measures were effective.

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Philippine aviation body urges ICAO to re-consider safety concerns

Posted at 05/08/2010 3:49 PM

In an effort to address their international peer’s concerns on the ability to enforce safety policies on local aviation players, the new management of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said they have already achieved the safety milestones set by the International Civil Aviation Authority Organization (ICAO).

In a statement on Saturday, Alfonso Cusi, the two-month old director general of the CAAP, said the regulatory body has formally asked ICAO to lift its Serious Safety Concern (SSC) status on the Philippine body.

“We believe that we have fully completed all the requirements imposed by the regulatory body,” Cusi said.

ICAO’s technical report was the basis of the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) in downgrading the Philippines’ safety rating to Category 2 in 2008. European Union followed and included the Philippines in its 13th updated list of countries banned (Related story: EU bans airlines from Sudan, Philippines) from that region’s airspace starting March 2010. South Korea has informally warned it would do the same but this was averted.

In its latest report on the Philippines dated October 2009, ICAO noted that the CAAP, which was created following the 2008 FAA downgrade, had more lapses in meeting international standards in overseeing aviation players.

Cusi, the former chief of the Manila airport authority who decided not to join the local race in the 2010 elections, replaced the former CAAP chief, a retired air force general. (Related Story: Cusi named aviation body chief)

In the statement, Cusi said the CAAP has already conformed to the remaining concerns raised by ICAO in its Corrective Action Plan. These include upgrading the technical skills of CAAP personnel overseeing international flights and small domestic aircrafts.

“We have been working hard for this for two (2) months now and now is the right time, we are ready,” Cusi said.

He was referring to the following efforts:

 - recent certification of 9 out of 10 operators implementing international flight operations

- surveillance inspections of 9 operators conducting international flight operations

- certification of 14 out of 39 operators engaged as domestic taxis, chartered and aerial works utilizing aircraft with 19 passengers or less

“Eighteen Air Operators have a definite deadline until December 1, 2010 to complete their certification process otherwise their operations will be suspended,” Cusi said.

Last March 15, 2010, Cusi said CAAP hired 50 qualified ICAO-trained Qualified Technical Personnel for the Flight Standard Inspectorate Services, the office responsible for safety oversight of Air Operators. These inspectors conduct surveillance inspections including post certification audits of all Air Operators under the close supervision and guidance of the resident ICAO experts.

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Mendoza asks ICAO to help in ATO turnaround

First Posted 20:15:00 01/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza Friday said he has invited International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) consultants to be part of a team that would steer the Air Transportation Office (ATO) back into compliance with international oversight standards.

Their target is for the ATO to recover its Category 1 rating with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in three months.

"We have asked five consultants from ICAO and we have started calling for inputs from aviation stakeholders such as local airlines and tourism agencies so that ATO can recover its Category 1 rating," Mendoza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of in an interview.

Mendoza, who attended the opening of the New Bacolod-Silay airport Thursday night, cited the new facility as an example of a world-class, ICAO-compliant gateway outside Metro Manila.


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Monday, July 19, 2010

Philippine Air Force training plane crashes in Tarlac, pilots unhurt

An Philippine Air Force training craft crashed in Tarlac Monday morning, but its pilot and co-pilot were unhurt, the Philippine Air Force said.

In a text message sent to reporters, Philippine Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Okol said the AS-211 training aircraft with tail number 024 crashed at the vicinity of the Intensive Military Training Area 1, in Santiago, Conception, Tarlac at 11:08 a.m. Monday.

“The aircraft impacted a sugar cane field and did not pose any danger to lives or property,” Okol said.

The pilot and co-pilot, Major Wilfredo Donato and First Lieutenant Jose Wilbert Leonides Martinez respectively, were unhurt as they were able to eject themselves from the aircraft prior to the crash and landed safely.

The two pilots were airlifted to Clark Airbase at around 11:45 a.m., and are undergoing routine medical check-up at the Air Force City hospital, the military spokesman added.

General Oscar Rabena, Air Force Commander Lieutenant, has ordered the creation of an investigation team to determine the cause of the accident, Okol said.

All AS-211 aircrafts will remain grounded pending the results of investigation, Okol said.