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Possible Phl aviation safety upgrade to Category 1 moved to Jan next year

MANILA, Philippines - The possible upgrade in the country’s aviation safety rating that would allow airlines from the country to expand and mount additional flights to the US has been deferred to January.

John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), said the scheduled visit and mini audit of the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) this week was postponed to January.

“All we can say is that the audit has been rescheduled to January,” Andrews said in a text message.

The CAAP official refused to elaborate on the details including the reason for the cancellation of the visit.

A team composed of US-FAA division manager for Flights Standards Service John Barbagallo and area manager for Asia Pacific James Spillane was scheduled to arrive last Monday to meet with aviation authorities and conduct a mini audit.

The US FAA downgraded the safety rating of CAAP in 2008 to category 2 from category 1 upon the recommendation of the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

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Category 2 indicates that the FAA had assessed that the Philippines’ civil aviation authority had failed to comply with ICAO safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations. While in Category 2, Philippine air carriers are permitted to continue current operations to the US under heightened FAA surveillance.

Barbagallo was the “bearer” of bad news when the Philippines’ aviation safety rating was downgraded five years ago.

Several teams from the US-FAA have been visiting the Philippines over the last four months as part of the evaluation process of the country’s aviation safety standards.

Earlier, Andrews said in a press conference that the Philippines would get the much deserved aviation safety rating upgrade back to Category 1 from the US-FAA within the year otherwise he would quit his job.

“We are still maintaining the position that we will be lifted before the end of the year. If that does not happen the buck stops at me. If this does not happen before the end of the year I will no longer be here. That is my commitment,” he said earlier.

The CAAP official cited the decision of ICAO late last February to lift the remaining aviation safety concerns last February paving the way for the lifting of the ban imposed by the European Union in 2010 wherein airlines from the Philippines were barred from entering the European airspace.

 “I am confident that there are no more safety issues as far as we are concerned and this has been confirmed by no less than the EU and ICAO,” Andrews added.

Once the Category 2 is upgraded to Category 1, he said national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) could use more fuel efficient aircraft to replace old aircraft being used to ply certain routes to the US.


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