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Friday, August 6, 2010

EU to inspect RP aviation sector for possible lifting of ban

A team from the European Union is set to arrive in the Philippines later this year to assess the country’s progress in improving the security and safety standards of its civil aviation.

The inspection team aims to determine if the ban imposed on Philippine carriers, which were declared unfit to fly into EU’s 27-member states’ airspace, could be lifted, according to Alistair MacDonald, EU’s ambassador to the Philippines.

MacDonald said the team’s findings will be submitted to the EU air safety committee for consideration during its meeting in Brussels this coming November.

The team is scheduled to arrive either on September or October, MacDonald said.

MacDonald explained that the EU is specifically concerned on the country’s supervisory authority and not on the safety record of Philippine carriers.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) failed to implement and enforce relevant safety standards for local airlines, a finding that led to the enforcement of the ban.

“We have already recognized it’s not the safety record of the airlines which is the issue. It’s the ability of the regulatory authority to certify the safety performance of the carriers. That’s the issue and that’s what the CAAP has to address," the envoy said.

The inspection will coincide with the ongoing assessment of the ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that ensures that countries adhere to global security and safety standards of air navigation.

MacDonald said he has already informed Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus of the inspection.

“I did talk about this briefly with Transport Secretary De Jesus just a week ago but more on the outlining of the situation and the government is aware of the steps which have to be taken and aware of what ICAO has to do and the possibility of us reconsidering in the November meeting," he said.

The EU imposed the ban last April 1 following an announcement by the ICAO in October 2009 of a Significant Safety Concern relating to the oversight functions carried out by the CAAP, and on the earlier downgrading of the Philippines' safety rating by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

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