Beechcraft can float too as it crash in Cagayan

Passengers are safe

30 November 2010

Thirteen people, including two children, survived a plane crashed in Cagayan River in Barangay San Vicente in Iguig town, Cagayan around 1:30 p.m.

The Beechcraft Queen Air 65 plane with registry RPC-1111 was piloted by Captain Agustin Jose and Benedict Dela Cruzon and on its way from Basco, Batanes to Tuguegarao in Cagayan with full 13 passengers, when its two engine stopped in midair at 3,000 feet in the air causing it to crashed 8.5 kilometers away from the Tuguegarao airport.

The passengers were named as Rustom Hontonia, Jack Castaño, Jovani Pahodpod, David Batan, Benedict John Acebes, Mae Jane Agcaoili, Harold Agito, Kate Vallentes, Mika Horkajo, Hana Horkajo and Yale Mark Elep.

Three other passengers Harold Agito, Benedict John Acebes and Jovani Pahodpod were Boy Scout members on their way to a camping site in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur for a scouting activity.

“The pilot had managed to make a forced landing on a corn field before it hit a river bed to soften the impact of the crash and prevent any explosion,” said Senior Superintendent Mao Aplasca, Cagayan police director.

"Sa tubig kami bumagsak. Lumabas kami at sa pakpak nakatayo (We landed on the water. We went out of the aircraft and stood on its wings)", says one of its passenger Jack Castaño.

Castaño said the rescue boats came 20 minutes after the crash.

Government exploring other sites for Bohol airport

But Panglao is still on the list

Monday, 29 November 2010

By Cai U. Ordinario

DUE to the concerns raised by non-government organizations (NGOs) and various experts on the safety and environmental issues that envelop the building of the Panglao airport, the national government is currently exploring other locations for the Bohol airport.

In an interview over the long weekend, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. said the government is already looking at other options to place the Bohol airport other than in the proposed location in Panglao.

The building of the new Bohol airport development, which is being implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), is included in the first 10 projects proposed under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The estimated cost of the project is $168.89 million or around P7.6 billion.

“It’s actually being looked at in response to their [concern]. There has been an honest look for alternative places that will also serve the purpose more or less. But in a way, the agency [DOTC] still has a lot of influence on where it will finally end up and they are looking at that,” Paderanga said.

“The commitment is for sure [that] for next year there will be an airport in Bohol because the demand is there. It’s being studied but at some point, a decision has to be made and the decision may include compromises on all sides,” he added.

The Neda chief said the concern for the safety of placing an airport in Panglao island was raised to the new Cabinet upon its assumption into office. This has led the Aquino Cabinet to study other locations for the airport without delaying the project.

Paderanga assured investors and the public that the new airport will still be bidded out by the second quarter of 2011 as scheduled. The government hopes that by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, a contract will already be awarded to a winning bidder.

One of the staunchest critics of the airport is former Asian Development Bank lead economist Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia, who recently sent a letter to DOTC Secretary Jose P. de Jesus on the matter.

The letter, which was also sent to other Cabinet secretaries like Paderanga, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisma, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and Secretary Ricky Carandang, stated the dangers and pitfalls of placing an airport on Panglao island.

One of the most dangerous physical threats of constructing an airport on Panglao was the fact that the area is made of soft limestone that places the airport at risk of collapse due to sinkholes.

“Geologists [like] Dr. Carlo Arcilla of UP NIGS [National Institute of Geological Sciences] say that the Island is constituted of soft limestone with several sinkholes or cavities not visible to the naked eye—there are allegedly caves underground. There’s a risk that the runway and buildings would collapse due to the sinkholes. Apparently, in the previous administration’s rush, careful geological tests [like] ground penetrating radar had not been conducted,” Pernia said.

Apart from the physical threat, Pernia and other concerned Boholano professionals in Metro Manila like former UP President Dr. Jose V.

Abueva, raised concerns regarding the environmental ramifications of placing an airport in Panglao as well as questioned the quality of the feasibility study done on the proposed airport.

Pernia said that locating an airport will destroy Panglao’s “delicate ecology.” Panglao island is considered as the “crown jewel” of Bohol’s tourism industry. But locating an airport in the island will only destroy the pristine environment that year after year draw in tourists to Bohol.

Further, Pernia and other groups believe that proper public consultation may have not been made and only a “pro-forma” survey was conducted through Holy Name University research center.

“We have reviewed the feasibility study done by the TCGI engineers, the consulting firm hired for the purpose and we found the study’s quality and rigor markedly below par. For instance, the economic forecasts are overly optimistic based on questionable assumptions,” Pernia said.

“We have also raised the question: why is there a need for an international [though now reportedly modified to a “regional”] airport in Bohol when the Mactan International Airport [MIA] is so close? Would it not make better economic sense to spend funds to upgrade the MIA into a truly world-class airport to serve the Visayas and Mindanao?

To facilitate the transfer of tourists from Mactan to Bohol, why not build a wharf near the MIA where the tourists could directly board nicer ferryboats such that the cruise to Bohol could already be part of the tour?” he added.

DOTC Strikes Back!

‘Stop blocking aviation reforms’

25 November 2010

A ranking official of the Department of Transportation and Communications on Thursday advised the head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) against blocking Philippine aviation reforms, especially since “we as a country are getting back our Category 1 status.”

Transportation Undersecretary Dante Velasco scored Director General Alfonso Cusi, for allegedly deliberately misleading the public as to the true intent of a letter from the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) requesting postponement of the audit of the country’s civil-aviation sector.

Nowhere in the letter, Velasco noted, did Icao official Henry Gourdji state or hint anything remotely related to the new appointees, who “precisely are there to make up for the deficiencies of Cusi in the area of real aviation training and experience.”

Velasco expressed the wish that “the personal agenda of one person should not come in the way of the restoration of the Category 1 status to Philippine aviation.”

Earlier, Cusi did not hide his displeasure over the appointment of the seven new executives to the Caap management, “when the prudent and patrioric thing to do is to welcome such appointments, because they can collectively work together for a common goal for Philippine aviation.”

Cusi is a holdover executive of the Arroyo administration and is known to have a track record in shipping and sea port operations, but definitely not in aviation, Velasco added.

Velasco said he has a copy of the letter, and the Icao executive who signed it even sounded apologetic that the audit would have to be postponed owing to “operational reasons.”

In the November 10, 2010, letter, Icao official Henry Gourdji said the Icao Coordinated Validation Mission would be postponed owing to operational reasons.

“We will endeavor to work with you to reschedule the mission for mutually agreed- upon dates,” said Gourdji, chief of the Icao’s Continuous Monitoring and Oversight Section, Air Navigation Bureau.

“Only a man with a hidden agenda would add anything to a straightforward letter like that,” Velasco said, alluding to Cusi.

Velasco said: “Either Mr. Cusi erred in reading the letter, or has deliberately added his own opinion linking the said postponement to the appointment of seven Caap executives by the Caap, which Cusi up to now is resisting.”

But according to the Caap camp, when Cusi pressed the Icao to clarify the meaning of “operational concerns,” the Icao said: “These operational reasons relate to the insecurity of Icao in the sustainability of the present reforms being indertaken by the Caap. The present unclear political announcement of change in senior management could create, in Icao’s opinion, an indeterminable future of professional processes within Caap.”

In an interview, Cusi said the Icao, which maintains a group of experts paid for by the Caap, probably relayed the ongoing political turmoil in the Caap appointments, prompting their experts to defer the visit.

The expected return of the Philippines to Category 1 status, now almost within reach, is in danger of receding in the distance following the cancellation of the visit, according to Cusi.

He said the Caap had already fulfilled 87 of the 89 “significant safety concerns” (SSCs) found by the Icao way back in 2007, and it is only a matter of time before the two remaining issues are resolved.

Cusi said the Icao had hinted that they would lift the blacklist on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific after the “validation visit this December.

Getting back to Category 1 is expected to be granted by April or May 2011, but this possibility has dimmed following the deferment of the visit,” Cusi said.

A positive audit report of the ICVM would put the Philippines’ civil aviation back to Category 1 status, meaning that the Philippines would be fully compliant with international standards, notably those being espoused by the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States of America.

Actually, the DOTC explained, the appointment of the new Caap officials is part of the strategy to strengthen the Caap management team and enable it to effectively address deficiencies in our civil aviation, including lack of qualified technical personnel, as pinpointed by the Icao,” Velasco explained.

According to the latest report from the Caap, however, one of the appointees, Andres Laurilla, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1978, had withdrawn his name from the list, admitting that he is not qualified for the position.

The DOTC named Laurilla assistant director general for the Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), where all air-traffic controllers, air- navigation specialists and technicians undergo training. All previous CATC heads are air-traffic controllers, except during the time of Jesus Singson, who heads it in concurrent capacity, while also director of the Bureau of Air Transportation.

SEAIR flies Manila Clark to Singapore

Begins flight on December 16, 2010

November 24, 2010

Singapore - Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd., the budget carrier backed by Singapore Airlines Ltd., has sealed a partnership agreement with Philippine leisure airline South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR), obtaining a lease for two Airbus aircraft as well as an online marketing arrangement in what it considers its first venture to expand into Southeast Asia and the Philippine market.

SEAir flights from Clark, north of Manila, to Singapore will start Dec. 16 and be offered through Tiger Air’s website, according to a statement from the Singapore-based carrier today.

Tiger Holdings also announced that it will advance the delivery of two on-order Airbus A320 planes to next year to add to Seair fleet, it said. An Airbus 319 plane was delivered on Nov. 23 while another one will arrive on Nov. 29. Two more A319s are set for delivery next year.

All the Airbus jets will be based at Clark and will compliment Tiger Airways operation out of the country as it will benefit from Seair's expanded domestic network.

“Additional routes operated by SEAIR using these new jet aircraft will be added to the program over the coming months,” said Seair President and Chief Executive Officer Avelino L. Zapanta.

“We intend to operate as many as 20 aircraft in the next three years,” Zapanta said. Seair operates a fleet of 7 Dornier 328 turboprops mostly to leisure destinations in the Philippines.

Seair said the smaller aircraft will be used for smaller airports like Caticlan, while the bigger ones will be flown to major domestic destinations, as well as serve the carrier’s regional flights.

Zapanta said the carrier would introduce twice-daily flights to Singapore on Dec. 16 and at least one flight a day to three other destinations across the country.

The airline intends to add Davao and Cebu early next year, as well as launch flights to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Macau in the next two months.

“With this new collaboration with Tiger Airways, we will also be able to serve more international visitors to the Philippines by offering more destinations.” Zapanta added.

“The resulting operational and cost efficiencies will ensure more low-fare seats are available and contribute to the growth of SEAIR and the Clark gateway, benefiting customers in the Philippines and across the Asia-Pacific region,” the statement said.

Tiger also is setting up a venture in Bangkok with Thai Airways International Plc called Thai Tiger Airways, but is plagued by funding hurdles in Transport Ministry and National Economic and Social Development Board forcing the carrier to postpone the launch date of the LCC JV from Mar-2011 to late May-2011.

ICAO defers December ‘validation mission

Fears CAA Revamp!

By Recto Mercene

November 24, 2010

EXPERTS from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) postponed their planned “validation mission” from December 7 to 10, fearing that the Aquino administration’s attempt to change some senior official of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAA) could derail the progress of an ongoing reforms.

The Icao Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) told CAA Director General Alfonso Cusi in a telephone conversation, that its December visit is being postponed indefinitely owing to“operational concerns.”

“These operational reasons relate to the insecurity of ICAO in the sustainability of the present reforms being undertaken by CAA. The present unclear political announcements of a change in senior management could create, in ICAO’s opinion, an indeterminable future of professional processes within CAA,” Cusi was told.

It has come to the Icao’s attention that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) attempted to railroad the appointment of key officials when Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus submitted the names ofseven persons to key management positions in the Caap.

“This is sad, we’ve been working hard for these [reforms], but in a letter dated November 9, Icao informed us of their decision to postpone the ICVM indefinitely,” Cusi said.

He added that prior to the Icao letter, the Caap conducted dialogs with some visiting aviation experts, who were made aware of the ongoing changes in the agency and the aviation experts expressed frustration that during their follow-up visit, they might be facing a different set of officials.

“We might be wasting our time, we might come here to validate your reforms but there is possibility that we would be dealing with a different set of officials,” the Icao officials were quoted by Cusi as saying.

The postponement of the visit came at a time when the Caap had complied with 87 out of the 89 “significant safety concerns” that the Icao discovered during its assessment in 2007, leading it to downgrade the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 status.

The coming visit by Icao this December is expected to remove the ban imposed on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to fly over European airspace. Although these airlines do not have scheduled flights to Europe, the blacklist prevented them from mounting additional flights and opening other destinations in the United States.

However, Cusi has not lost hope.

He is drafting another letter, trying to convince the Icao officials to proceed with the visit, or reset it to another date, and asking for more clarification.

Cusi said the Caap had told the Icao that the reforms are progressing and the appointments of the three new officials, so far, had not pushed through.

Cusi pointed out that when the DOTC submitted the names of key Caap officials, four of them were “organic” personnel already working under him, while the three others were outsiders of “doubtful” qualifications.

The Caap headman wrote the DOTC, complaining of the appointments as beng violative of Republic Act 9497, which created the Caap, whose head has the sole mandate of appointing key officials to the agency.

Cusi said that when the board of directors signed the appointment of the officials submitted by the DOTC, the act was “in contravention to the provisions of Republic Act 9497, its implementing rules, and civil service regulations on the selection and appointment of career personnel.”

De Jesus based his appointments on the alleged “desire letter” of the President, but it did not go through the regular procedure of the selection board, or by appointment of the director general as prescribed by the law.

Cusi said he was not “against the person” or even the “desire letter” of the President, but urged the DOTC to comply with the law as prescribed in the Caap charter.

“Our compliance to our own aviation law is of greater concern to the international community,” he said.

The Caap chief lamented the postponement of the Icao validation mission because, on November 18, Caap received clearance from the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) to publicly release the executive summary of the assessment visit done by Easa officers on Caap efforts from October 18 to 22.

The executive summary positively promoted the Caap’s ongoing overhaul of various branches, saying that “…the Civil Aviation Authority has undertaken a series of not only ambitious but also courageous reforms of the civil-aviation oversight in place in the Republic of the Philippines…to achieve this, it is essential that it continues to act independently of any political or economical influence, pursuant to the will of the legislator.”

The passage of RA 9497 and its implementation is being monitored by the Icao, the US Federal Aviation Adminisration (FAA) and the European Union.

“Without the Icao audit, the FAA and the EU will not act upon any request of the Philippines for reinstatement to Category 1 and removal from the blacklist,” Cusi added.

Domestic air passenger, cargo traffic up as of September

November 17, 2010

THE NUMBER of people and cargo transported by air around the Philippines increased in the nine months to September from a year ago, data the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) released yesterday showed.

Specifically, the data showed that total number of passengers increased by a tenth to 12.26 million from 11.09 million, while cargo rose by a bigger 34.33% to 134.81 million kilograms from 100.36 million kg.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) carried 4.09 million passengers, 11.66% less than 4.63 million last year, but 20% more cargo at 53.45 million kg from 44.55 kg. Its load factor -- or the percentage of available seats that were actually occupied -- rose slightly to 79% from 78%.

PAL sister firm Air Philippines flew 1.12 million passengers, more than triple than 320,651 last year, and 4.78 million kg of cargo, nearly eight times more than the 605,913 kg recorded the same period last year. Its load factor dipped to 69% from 74%.

Cebu Pacific Air carried 5.98 million passengers, up 11.99% from 5.34 million, and 66.84 million kg of cargo, a 27.7% increase from 52.34 million kg. Load factor improved to 84% from 81% in the same periods.

Zest Air passengers rose 36.9% to 902,935 from 659,544, while it transported 8.93 million kg of cargo this year. No comparative cargo figure was given last year. Load factor improved to 71% from 69%.

Southeast Asian Airlines passengers increased 24.68% to 159,086 from 127,600, but it flew 27.5% less cargo at 194,961 kg from 268,902 kg. Its load factor, however, rose to 76% from 71%.

Finally, Pacific East Asia Cargo Airlines carried four times less cargo at 594,979 kg from 2.59 million kg.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said in an interview yesterday that his office is "expecting double-digit growth by the end of this year." -- AMPD

FAA Upgrade to be announce in 2011

But will Credit be to Cusi or to Pnoy?

November 13, 2010


The Philippines is hoping to be removed from the European Union's blacklists of countries deemed to have unsafe aviation early next year as it got all positive reviews from EU inspectors last month.

Inspectors from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)visited the country in October 18 to assess and evaluate the Philippines compliance to safety and regulatory concerns raised last year.

“The Philippines has passed the Safety Audit performed by the European Union Safety Inspection Team.” The regulatory agency said Friday.

“The preliminary audit from EASA confirmed that we are on the right track toward professionalism and solid foundation of the Authority,” said CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi, who has been under intense pressure to resign from his tenured office.

The Safety Inspection Team from the European Union spent two weeks in the country to assess the new regulations and changes in the civil aviation system.

Cusi reported that the changes instituted by the CAAP received the approval of the EU safety board. Aviation regulators expect the blacklist to be lifted by December.

ICAO Findings

The authority has addressed the most critical issues raised by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during its last safety audit.

Cusi said an ICAO team is scheduled to visit next month and will be told that the government has complied substantially with 87 of 89 deficiencies listed by the ICAO.

The two outstanding items are completion of the training of the new CAAP inspectors, and computerization of the agency, which has been held up as contracts are still under review.

Cusi said since he assumed office in March, the CAAP has closed five substandard flight schools in the country.

Some of these schools, he said, were caught padding the students’ number of flight hours.

The regulator has also canceled around two dozen pilots’ licenses, which the CAAP determined to be unqualified.

With these steps taken, Cusi said ICAO representatives who were in Manila late last month said the Philippines was well on its way to securing a rating upgrade.

Cusi did not say however when the final two problems would be rectified.

CAT 1 Status by Next year

An ICAO team will visit the Philippines from December 7 to 10 to conduct a full technical audit of the CAA. A decision on the country’s rating can be expected about two weeks after the audit is completed.

Cusi said that with the positive EU findings, a favorable outcome of the upcoming ICAO assessment this December is already in the bag.

"Next in line is the Federal Administration Administration (FAA) certification. The next FAA audit will be in the first three months of 2011 and the Philippines is hoping that Status Upgrade will be made after that," Cusi said.

“Once the ICAO lifts the Serious Safety Concerns (SSC)on the Philippines, we expect the FAA to revert the country’s safety category back to “Category 1.” says Cusi.

The ICAO technical audit will focus on the areas of legislation, organization, personnel licensing, aircraft operations, airworthiness and the SSC.

Cusi added the upgrade will pave the way for Philippine Airlines to fly to Europe in 2012, as they will be adding two new widebody jets to their fleet. London and Rome are the choice destination on the list. PAL will also add the long awaited flight to San Diego via Vancouver, and Chicago and New York in the US via Toronto in Canada.

“ICAO will validate the status of the implementation of the Corrective Action Plans that were verified by EASA to have fully addressed the respective protocol questions identified in the findings,” he said.

The United States' Federal Aviation Authority and the European Union's European Aviation Safety Administration both take their guidance from ICAO and serves as its "safety compliance monitors".

CAAP Revamp, a Government Intervention

Reforms at the regulatory agency has been met by intense opposition from various groups whose vested interest has been affected by the on-going CAAP crackdown.

Last week, seven CAAP officials were replaced with what the DOTC said were “more qualified personnel.” The new appointees were said to be aviation industry experts, as claimed by DOTC, yet they were the ones alleged to be responsible for the stagnation of the Philippine Aviation Industry.

Director Cusi opposes the revamp saying that it might be untimely considering that important audits by the FAA and ICAO are set to take place and it might jeopardize the country’s chances for a ratings upgrade.

“It would affect the things we are doing. I need support from the government,” he said.

The DOTC however challenges Cusi's personnel appointment, saying their replacement are more qualified, as they bring to their jobs a “wealth of expertise and experience that are precisely needed to bring our aviation sector to the next level,” according to Undersecretary Dante M. Velasco, of Department of Transportation and Communications.

Velasco pointed out that the new appointees are expected to make up for the lack of real aviation experience among the current crop of top CAAP executives.

DOTC also wanted to replace Cusi, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and is seeking his voluntary resignation but refused to heed their call on grounds of his fixed term.

CAAP fights from all fronts as DOTC flexes muscle

Cusi outflanked as all his top aviation officials replaced

by Jeremiah F. de Guzman

November 11, 2010

THE Transport Department has dislodged seven aviation officials to give way to appointees with “more experience and expertise,” an official told the Manila Standard Wednesday.

The seven had been placed on floating status and would have to wait for their new designations, Transport Undersecretary Dante Velasco said.

“As career officials, they can choose to stay or leave the agency,” Velasco said in a phone interview.

He said the Transport Department was also planning to appoint a new director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to replace Alfonso Cusi, “But we are still studying that from a legal standpoint.”

Cusi refused to comment on the new appointments, but said he had already written the Transport Department requesting it to follow the procedure for career positions that should have security of tenure.

The new officials of the Civil Aviation Authority who replaced the seven took their oath Wednesday last week, he said.

He confirmed the appointment of the following officials:

• Ramon Gutierrez as deputy director general for Administration

• Napoleon Garcia as deputy director general for Operations

• Wilfredo Borja as assistant director general II for Air Traffic Services

• Andrew Basallote as assistant director general II for Air Navigation Service

• Edgardo Costes as assistant director general II for Aerodrome Development and Management Service

• Wilson Mirabona as assistant director general I for Aerodrome Development and Management Service

• Andres Laurilla as assistant director general I for the Civil Aviation Training Center.

“We just got the right people. The new government needs the right people to get things done,” Velasco said, adding that with their oath-taking on Wednesday, the appointments were considered “final” and were approved by the majority of the Civil Aviation board.

Velasco said the seven aviation officials who were replaced were appointed by the Arroyo administration, but they lacked the skills to upgrade the aviation sector.

“We need to make up for lack of aviation experience and expertise of the people now leaving the CAAP and [for the Philippines] to get back the Category 1 status,” Velasco said.

He said officials of the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization had ordered the Philippines to professionalize the CAAP and appoint officials based on their technical expertise.

“We need to do that to get back the Category 1 status and lift the EU ban on our carriers,” Velasco said.

In 2007 the US Federal Aviation Administration placed the Philippines on a list of 21 countries on Category 2 from Category 1 “for failure to provide safety oversight of its air-carrier operators in accordance with the safety-oversight standards set by the International Civil Aviation Authority.”

The Philippines’ aviation facilities still failed in the second audit conducted bythe FAA last year, so those stayed under Category 2 in aviation safety standards.

“The [new officials] came from the private entities involved in aviation,” Velasco said.

“We are confident that with the new composition of the CAAP, we can pass the FAA audit.”

Air Pacquiao

Chartered flight costs $100k as Air Pacquiao ferries huge entourage

By Abac Cordero
November 09, 2010

HOLLYWOOD – A bigger entourage calls for a bigger plane.

So, that’s what Manny Pacquiao ordered, a much bigger plane, a Boeing 757, that would carry him and 187 others, including his team members, government officials, family and friends, from Los Angeles to Dallas.

Pacquiao and his entourage, a bloated one, will fly out of LA at 4 p.m. Monday (7 a.m. Tuesday in Manila).

It will take them three hours to get to the Love Field in Dallas. Then they all head straight to the Gaylord Texan Hotel, the fight’s official hotel, located in the middle of nowhere.

Pacquiao had planned to take a 12-seater private plane to Dallas, but changed his mind just last week, opting to travel with everyone else as fight week begins in Texas.

Pacquiao’s decision to charter a jumbo jet triggered a mad scramble among booking agents, and anyone else who wanted to be part of the deal that would easily cost more than $100,000.

The honor went to Star Flight, under Rob Lyons, the same one that provides for the travel needs of the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets when they’re in town.

It’s the same airline company that took Pacquiao and 139 others to and from Dallas for the Joshua Clottey fight last March, and, for some trivia, the one that serviced the 1992 US Dream Team to the Barcelona Olympics.

Pacquiao said around fifty of his fellow congressmen will watch the fight, and some, if not most, of them will join him in Monday’s trip, to probably occupy the first class seats.

Pacquiao’s immediate family, including wife Jinkee and mother Dionisia, will be there, as well as trainers Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza, and friends, a handful actors and fellow boxers.

When Pacquiao and company landed in Dallas last March, some of the welcomers were surprised at the size of Pinoy boxer’s entourage, which would make Muhammad Ali’s look like a rag-tag unit.

“How did you get all these people inside the plane,” said one from Top Rank.

The Boeing 757, which can seat 186 to 279 persons depending on its configuration, is the same type of plane being used by the Vice President of the United States, known as “Air Force Two” whenever he’s on board.

For the meantime, this one will fly under the call sign “Air Pacquiao.”

PAF Gets Brand-new Trainer Airplanes


November 3, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is set to fly again when it receives four brand new trainer airplanes bought this year from Italy through the military’s modernization program.

The four trainer planes, part of 18 on order, will be formally accepted by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena in formal ceremonies to be held at the PAF training school in Pampanga this morning. Witnessing the event will be Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.

PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said this initial delivery is part of the 18 basic trainer aircraft which the Air Force is acquiring from Augusta of Italy with a total cost of P621,671,409.06.

The package includes the airplanes, spare parts, training and integrated logistical support.

Okol disclosed that the Pilot Training System of the Philippine Air Force currently uses both the T-41 and the SF-260 aircraft for primary and basic training respectively.

“The hand-over of T-41 aircraft from the Republic of South Korea in 2009 provided more primary trainer aircraft for the Philippine Air Force Flying School,” Okol said.

“These (SF-260) trainers will significantly increase the number of available basic trainer aircraft of the PAF for flight training,” Okol said.

According to the PAF spokesperson, the PAF is lacking in training aircraft, with at least 150 to 170 Air Force officers forced to wait in line for actual training to fly an aircraft. The arrival of the four SF-260 Marchetti planes will boost the training capability of the Air Force and ease the backlog of students required to undergo flying exercises.

Okol however clarified that even if the officers wait in line to get flying time, their time was not wasted as they are required to undergo training in other career fields related to intelligence, computers, logistics and maintenance.

The propeller-driven AF-260 is the world’s most successful screener and primary trainer.

Fully acrobatic by design, the SF-260 offers flight characteristics and performance levels that allow effective pilot candidates screening early in the program and minimizes the costs incurred when students wash out on jets or complex turboprops.

The SF-260, with Allison 250-B17D Turboprop engine, has a span of 8.35 meters, length of 7.40 meters, rate climb of 2,200 feet per minute and maximum level speed of 228 KTAS (knots true air speed). All SF-260 variants are available with either piston or turbine engines.

Some 900 SF-260 have been sold to 27 different military customers, civil professional flying schools and private operators worldwide. The Italian Air Force bought 30 brand new units.

The expected completion of delivery for the remaining 14 aircraft will be in the first quarter of next year.

2 Airbus 320 Aircraft join RP fleet

As both PR and 5J got one each

NOVEMBER 1, 2010

SINGAPORE –The race for low cost supremacy is on as GE Capital Aviation Services Ltd. (GECAS), the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of GE, today announced delivery of a new Airbus A320-200 aircraft to Philippine Airlines, Inc (PAL).

The delivery comes from GECAS’ existing order book with Airbus and is the first of 20 new A320s to be delivered by GECAS to PAL. The new aircraft will be operated by its low cost arm, Airphilippines Express.

Philippine Airlines currently operates a fleet of 50 aircraft, including Airbus A319s and A320s and Boeing 747s and 777s leased from GECAS.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific (CEB) took delivery of its 22nd brand-new Airbus aircraft from Toulouse, France.

This is the first of 22 more brand-new Airbus aircraft to be delivered until 2014. It joins the Philippines’ youngest aircraft fleet, now composed of 10 Airbus A319, 12 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft. It has an average fleet age of 3.21 years.

CEB’s brand-new Airbus A320 is equipped with the latest avionics from Thales and Rockwell Collins, both global leaders in aviation electronics.

Both A320 aircraft will be based in Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 to support flight increases and network expansion of the respective airlines.

GECAS, the U.S. and Irish commercial aircraft financing and leasing business of GE, has a fleet of over 1,800 owned and managed aircraft with approximately 245 airlines in over 75 countries. GECAS offers a wide range of aircraft types and financing options, including operating leases and secured debt financing, and also provides productivity solutions including spare engine leasing, spare parts financing and management. GECAS, a unit of GE Capital, has offices in 23 cities around the world.