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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Caap asks ICAO to lift safety concern

Saturday, 08 May 2010 19:59

After appointing close to 50 check pilots and other technical personnel, and giving the green light to some local air carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has formally asked the International Civil Aviation Authority Organization (Icao) to lift the Serious Safety Concern (SSC) status slapped on the Philippines.

“I believe that CAAP has fully completed all the requirements imposed by the regulatory body,” CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi said.

Since assuming the top CAAP post early this year, Cusi had also appointed scores of airworthiness inspectors, cabin-crew inspectors and had formed a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to certify that some smaller airline companies have complied with the Civil Air Regulations (CAR) issued in 2008.

Cusi has also started auditing some airline companies to make sure that they have a certificate of compliance (COC) under the new CAR.

Airlines unable to fully comply have until December this year to abide by the new rules.

Cusi said that for an air carrier to earn a COC, it has to observe a high level of maintenance procedure, and that the proper personnel are employed.

In October 2009, after a 10-day audit, the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program of the Icao found the country’s aviation body to be sorely lacking in technical personnel.

It gave the CAAP six months to comply with its requirements. The move was allegedly a precautionary step based on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) downgrading of the country’s safety rating to Category 2 and the Icao’s concern on aviation-safety regulators.

Early this year Cusi and some top executives of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific went to Brussels to show the European Commission (EC) that the CAAP had complied with its list of SSC.

Cusi invited the EC members to visit the Philippines and see for themselves the improvements of the aviation sector and how it dealt with the SSC properly.

In March, however, the EC included the Philippines in its 13th updated list of countries together with other carries, banned from Europe’s airspace.

Since then, Cusi had sped up the reforms at the CAAP and now believes that he had fully complied with the Icao’s requirements.

In conformity with the CAP, the CAAP has already certified nine of the 10 major air operators conducting international flight operations. It has also completed the surveillance inspections of the nine air operators conducting international flight operations.

Of the 39 small domestic air operators variously engaged as domestic taxis, chartered and aerial works utilizing aircraft with 19 passengers or less, CAAP has certified 14 operators.

Eighteen local air carriers have a definite deadline, until December 1, 2010, to complete their certification process,  “otherwise their operations will be suspended,” Cusi said.

Effective March 15, the CAAP has hired 50 Icao-trained “Qualified Technical Personnel” for the Flight Standard Inspectorate Services, the office responsible for safety oversight of air operators.

These inspectors are now conducting surveillance inspections, including post certification audits of all air operators under the close supervision and guidance of the resident Icao experts.

“We have been working hard for this for the last two months now and we believe that now is the right time, we are ready,” Cusi said.  R. Mercene

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