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.