RP’s aviation safety still below FAA standards

March 17, 2009

By Conrado Ching

The country’s international civil aviation safety standards remain below those of the US Federal Aviation Administration, more than a year after the FAA downgraded the Philippine’s rating to Category 2.

The drop in the country’s rating to Category 2 from Category 1 means the country’s civil aviation authorities do not provide safety oversight of its air carriers in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao).

The Icao is a specialized agency of the United Nations created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world.

While the Air Transportation Office was renamed Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in a bid to improve the local aviation industry, the CAAP still failed to implement improvements in aviation safety.

An airport source said they have not seen any improvement in the country’s aviation industry since the country’s rating fell to Category 2.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Alfonso Cusi, however, said that despite the rating, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals continue to remain a world-class international airport in terms of management, operations and services.

“The NAIA is compliant with the standards prescribed by the ICAO. There is no cause for alarm because the NAIA remains capable of efficiently and safely servicing local and international carriers,” Cusi said.

He said that flight operations at the NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3 remain normal and safe to the public, especially to passengers.

“It’s business as usual and we will continue to maintain all amenities and courtesies due to airline passengers, especially tourists, returning residents and expatriates,” Cusi said.

“NAIA was not downgraded. What was re-categorized was the rating of the country’s international civil aviation safety standards, which falls under the responsibility of the CAAP,” he said.

“Like all other international airports worldwide, the NAIA undergoes periodic assessment by the Icao and the US Transportation Security Administration, and it has passed all tests for security and efficiency,” the airport chief explained.

The MIAA official said they are extending all kinds of support to the CAAP with regards to its operational, financial and strategic concerns with the hope of raising the FAA rating back to Category 1.

Under the Government Quality Management Program the NAIA has reportedly institutionalized the standards and qualities required by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the structure, mechanism and procedures of international airports the world over.

The so-called ISO 9001-2001 Quality Management System at the NAIA is by far the world’s most established quality framework, now being used by nearly a million organizations in 161 countries, Cusi said

“It sets the standard not only for quality management systems, but management systems in general to enable organizations to succeed through improved customer satisfaction, staff motivation and continual improvement,” Cusi added.

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