FAA to monitor Phl compliance with air safety rules
Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is giving the Philippine commercial aviation industry a two-year “reprieve” to cement its compliance with international safety standards and maintain its Category 1 status.

This was according to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) chief William Hotchkiss III, who said the FAA would regularly review the country’s compliance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The country Thursday regained its Category 1 status six years after it was downgraded to Category 2 due to safety concerns. The FAA upgrade would allow the country’s carriers, especially Philippine Airlines, to service more destinations in the United States.

CAAP deputy director general John Andrews, for his part, said the agency needs young minds to help it undertake reforms and sustain progress.

“They should be younger, many of our officials are senior citizens and may be called by the Lord anytime,” he said, partly in jest.

Hotchkiss is 70 years old while Andrews is 73.

“We have no capability to hire, to maintain sustainability, we need new blood,” he said in a radio interview.

He said CAAP has to seek a higher budget if it wants to hire new people with fresh ideas.

CAAP has a yearly allocation of around P5 billion.

While CAAP, under the law, should be an “independent and autonomous body,” it is in reality under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) like its predecessor the Air Transportation Office (ATO).

“We’re implementers here, if the industry feels that the CAAP is not independent enough, you can talk to the congressmen and senators to amend the law and give independence that is due,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Thursday when asked why CAAP is still under his department’s jurisdiction.

“I’m no aviation expert, but since the task was assigned to the DOTC, we have addressed the ICAO and EU concerns, including the concerns of the FAA,” he said.

But the country’s getting Category 1 status, he said, “should indicate enough that the setup is working, there is no reason but to improve.”

A CAAP source who requested anonymity said the DOTC wants CAAP to remain under its jurisdiction because the aviation regulating body has been a source of multimillion-peso contracts, such as those for the purchase of radars and navigation equipment, as well as for public works like maintenance and repairs of runways of some 80 airports around the country.

The latest DOTC acquisition, which CAAP itself should have made, was the P13-billion CNS/ATM communication and air traffic management system project. The project was reportedly 10 years behind schedule.

 

AIR TRANSPORTATION OFFICE CAAP CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION ORGANIZATION JOHN ANDREWS PHILIPPINE AIRLINES TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY JOSEPH EMILIO ABAYA UNITED STATES
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