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.