CAAP Grounds Seair plane

DO-328 to undergo re-certification

By Paolo Montecillo

June 1, 2010

THE CIVIL Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is looking into allegations that an aircraft being used by a local airline is not safe enough to carry passengers.

The aircraft in question, owned by local leisure carrier Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAir), allegedly does not meet minimum safety requirements and was sold to the airline
by a German firm on the condition that it would only be used for test flights or displayed in a museum.

But SEAir, headed by former Philippine Airlines president Avelino Zapanta, denied the claims, saying that its fleet of four Dornier 328-100 turbo prop aircraft has been cleared to be used for commercial flights.

“This issue is currently under investigation, but this [aircraft] is registered in the Philippines and it was the CAAP itself that gave it a certificate of airworthiness,” CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi said in an interview.

Reports quoting documents supposedly issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) showed that the German-made 32-seater Dornier with serial number 3003 was bought by SEAir from Avcraft Aerospace GmbH (AAG), an aviation firm in Germany.

The aircraft departed from Germany on April 3, 2006 with call sign RP-C9328, and it was supposed to have been sold with limitations, such that the plane can only be flown under experimental approval or put in a museum.

Cusi said the authenticity of the report was still in question, but for the meantime, the CAAP has grounded the concerned aircraft as of yesterday while investigations are ongoing.

Zapanta maintained that the claims were unfounded, saying that the airline’s aircraft would not have been given the CAAP’s OK to fly commercial flights if these were not safe.

SEAir, owned by Greek national Nikos Gitsis and German Iren Dornier, flies mainly to popular tourist destinations like Boracay and Palawan.

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