Philippines risks downgrade in aviation standards

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine aviation safety standards are at risk of being downgraded to “unwanted state” by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) given the country’s continuing failure to establish an independent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an airline official warned.

“It is our understanding that ICAO has required all of its member states to have an independent national transportation and safety body. The NTSB has not yet been created and is still part of the CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) as of today for aviation,” Cebu Pacific vice president for commercial planning Alexander Lao said. 

“I think that’s a huge risk if the Philippines is not able to create its own independent NTSB if in theory, the ICAO could easily relegate us back to unwanted state in terms of visitors,” he added.

Lao said the first priority for tourists coming into the Philippines is their safety and security, which is why having an independent body that would investigate any transportation safety incidents is critical.

ICAO is a UN specialized agency that works with member states and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation standards and recommended practices, as well as policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. 

Sen. Grace Poe in January last year has endorsed the approval of the proposed National Transportation Safety Board Act in a move seen to improve transport safety in the country.

The NTSB will be a seven-member board which will investigate air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents.

For the aviation sector, the CAAP currently serves as the regulator, operator and investigator of air traffic incidents.

A CAAP official who declined to be identified admitted that having an NTSB established in the country would be ideal.

“It is ideal when it comes to transport, particularly aviation, that we will have a separate entity from the regulatory body that would investigate accidents. It’s a model from other countries which is ideal,” the CAAP official said.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) late last month issued an advisory directing airlines going to the Philippines to alert their passengers on the deficiency of security measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The DHS said the determination that aviation security at NAIA, following assessments by a team of security experts from the Transportation Security Administration, “does not maintain and carry out effective security consistent with the security standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation said the ICAO in a letter dated Oct. 25, 2018, indicated that it was pleased with “the progress that State has made to comply with the standards in Annex 17–Security and the security-related Standards in Annex 9–Facilitation to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, and towards the implementation of the critical elements of a State aviation security oversight system.”

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with