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.

1 comment:

  1. First it was the FAA Cat 2, then the ICAO safety significant concerns and then the EU blacklisting. Is there any other country in the world that have garnered the 3 shameful awards in the aviation community?

    The EU blacklisting was based on the ICAO safety significant concerns which is just 2 items on the 88 or 89 findings by the ICAO. When the EU assessed CAAP last October they noted a lot of findings which just confirmed the ICAO safety concerns. I think the EU visit was premature as CAAP have not yet put in place the correction to the ICAO safety concerns or they think they have but unfortunately they were wrong, and so it means they lack the technical know-how. Why CAAP requested for the EU assessment before the ICAO is a big question as logically it should be the ICAO first and then EU after as the ICAO finding was the source reason why the Blacklisting. Now with the EU findings which just validated the same ICAO findings,do you think the ICAO will come and visit CAAP with just more than a month after the EU assessment? The ICAO postponement of the validation mission was a tactical move and not because of the political on goings at CAAP. ICAO knows that CAAP is not yet ready as was validated by EU and it will just be a waste of time and resources on their side. CAAP needs to get its acts together as any premature assessment on them would just further delay the situation. CAAP should not cut corners in their wish to get away from the 3 shameful awards. CAAP need to have the right people from management down to the inspectors for the Philippines to be at far with the world aviation standards.