Govt Certain on Cat 1 Upgrade by November
January 20, 2012
The Government of the Philippines is bullish on the forthcoming US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Technical Review scheduled on January 23 to 27 to regain Category 1 status for the country’s aviation industry.
"The FAA Team is headed by Jacques Astre" according to CAAP Director General Ramon Gutierrez.
Gutirrez said that CAAP has been regularly subjected to a series of audits and evaluation by the US-FAA, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Union's EASA, all of which reporting that CAAP’s compliance with the promulgated standards of the international civil aviation is in order and that what is left is the final audit to remove the Philippines from the list of non-compliant country.
"Its a series of audit inspections, and next week is just the beginning. Hopefully we will have Cat 1 by April but due to numerous postponements in the schedule it will come not later than November" says Gutierrez.
The FAA Technical Review is the preliminary assessment on the Agency's competence. Those covered by the assessment includes the Primary Aviation Legislation; the Specific Operating Regulations; the CAA Structure and Safety Oversight Function; Technical Guidance; Qualified Personnel; Licensing & Certification Obligations; Continued Surveillance Obligations; and Resolution of Safety Issues. The Agency was reported to have problems in two of the assessment areas 3 years ago.
Another round of audits and evaluations is scheduled in April before announcement is made whether the country pass or failed the FAA series of safety audit. The EASA will make preliminary assessment in the middle of the year followed shortly by ICAO inspectors to determine whether the identified Significant Safety Concerns (SSC) has been fully addressed.
As a result of aviation safety violations, the FAA downgraded the country's safety compliance to non-compliant country under Category 2 requiring oversight of its civil aircraft in July 2007. Noted deficiency was followed by the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) in 2009 and declaration by EASA on the same year banning Philippine operators from its airspace.
The manpower resources for the CAA is almost filled up according to approved staffing pattern of the ICAO and that professionalization of the Agency is in progress as Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved 3,544 positions, comprising of 1,743 technical and 1,801 salary grade posts, for the aviation body.
Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista believes 2012 will be crucial to their re-fleeting program as the carrier count on the US Federal Aviation Authority to upgrade the country’s safety status Category 1 status by November, which will enable it to expand its routes in the United States.
“We will back to Category 1 [status] Timing nalang. Maayos na,” the PAL president said. “Many of the needed reforms have been instituted by relevant government agencies. PAL itself will be undergoing a technical review then a technical audit by the FAA.”
PAL is finalizing expansion plans to San Diego and Seattle which they intend to fly direct using Airbus 340, as well as New York via Vancouver using its new Boeing 777-300ER plane.
The airline is hopeful to mount JFK-New York flight by December this year with San Diego and Seattle opening next year to coincide with the arrival of two other B777's.
The carrier is taking delivery of two B777-300ERs this year, one of which is intended for Australia operations and the other for Canada supplementing the other B777 service. The 2 other B777 arriving in 2013 will be used to supplement Los Angeles and San Francisco flights.
PAL will also receive 4 Airbus A320s which are arriving this year to expand intra-asia operations and replace aging fleet.
FAA audit is expected to be completed by October 2012.