CAAP Lifts Ban on Mobile Device Use on Planes

But no phone calls, please! 

31 December 2013

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has allowed the limited use of cellular phones by passengers as well as “conditional” Internet connection on mobile phones, laptops and other handheld devices with broadband services during flights as long as they are “judiciously done,” Philippine authorities said on Tuesday.

"We are removing the restriction on the use of cellphones since we believe we know it does not impair the safety of flights. There's no safety issue involved. Now the airlines will either have to comply with it or make their own adjustments as far as the restriction is concerned," CAAP Deputy Director General John Andrews said.

Memorandum Circular 52-13 was issued by the regulator Tuesday to cover the conditional use of transmitting portable electronic devices (TPED), music players, and global system for mobile communication on-board aircraft (GSMOBA) on all commercial aircrafts operating within or en-route over the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.

The Order came after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight last October 31.

The FAA decision is based on input from the PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) which concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from PEDs

Passengers will be allowed to use laptops, internet or short-message-service (SMS) or voice communications, and other broadband services while on board an aircraft except for voice calls.

Restrictions on use of all mobile devices is however imposed when the aircraft is re-fuelling, and must remain in silent mode when the aircraft doors are closed. The use of MP3 players will only be allowed with earphones and not with additional or separate speaker and/or amplifiers.

The ban on mobile devices has been in effect since the early 1990s, when cellphones was developed.

Bird Strike Grounds Plane in Dipolog

Disables A320 Aircraft

29 December 2013
An Airbus A320 plane of Philippine Airlines Express (RP-C8397) with 158 passengers on board landed safely at Dipolog airport at 2:16 pm Sunday after reporting a “bird strike“ damaging its engine number 2 by denting blades No. 21 and 22.

In aviation parlance, “Bird strike” occurs when birds, bats and all other flying animals collide with aircraft, hitting the nose, windshield, leading edges such as wings and tails, or is ingested by plane engines. Most damages to aircraft occur when striking large bird or flocks of birds.

Nobody was reported hurt among the passengers and crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

PAL Express flight 2P588 was  piloted by Captain Mark Castro and co-pilot Capt. Peter Salac together with four crew members on board.  The plane landed safely and was parked at the airport’s remote parking bay 3 and will remain overnight in Dipolog while waiting for the spare parts that will be coming from Manila, authorities said.

The aviation authority will send an investigation team  from the Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (EIIB)  headed by Harry Paradero and Alberto Dulay to  examine the aircraft and to look closely into the incident of bird strikes in the area around the vicinity of Dipolog Airport which is said to be the first incident around the airport's airspace which is mostly rural in nature.

In 2012, more than 50 bird strikes in the Philippines were recorded at different airports, two of them occurring within three days in October.

PAL Chooses APG as GSA in Europe

26 December 2013

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has appointed Paris-based Air Promotion Group (APG) as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in 16 countries and signs IATA BSP Consolidator System (IBCS) with APG for 20 Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) for its worldwide operations.

Under the agreement, APG will provide full sales and marketing services as well as customer support, ticketing and administrative facilities to some of its future European destinations.

APG will represent PAL in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Finland, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Israel.

IBCS, developed jointly by IATA and the APG Network in 1999 to widen BSP membership, permits scheduled airlines (whether IATA members or not) to join any BSP worldwide on a variable cost, “Pay as you Earn” basis, with nominal joining fees. 

The BSP system, operating in 83 locations covering over 140 countries, has accredited 64,000 travel agents. APG Network has introduced more than 250 airlines to BSP membership in both “Online” and “Offline” markets and has over 1,100 activated IBCS contracts in force in the BSPs around the world.

PAL is expected to fly to Italy, Turkey, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Israel next year.

APG was established in 1991 by 5 European General Sales Agency organizations to meet the demand for regional airline sales and marketing representation in Europe.

Z2 Miscalculates Kalibo Airport

Skids off runway

20 December 2014

A Zest Air Asia Airbus 320 plane (RP-C8988) bound for Busan carrying 137 passengers and 7 crew on board skidded off the runway at Kalibo International Airport Thursday afternoon after its front tires rolled into soft ground as the pilot tries to maneuver the aircraft for u-turn in preparation for take-off , the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.

The incident which occurred at around 3:15 p.m caused the temporary closure of Kalibo aiport delaying six flights in an out of the airport.  There were no injuries reported as the aircraft was towed back to the tarmac.

CAAP Deputy Director General John Andrews said the plane will not be allowed to proceed to Busan, and its pilot and crew are automatically grounded. Passengers however will be permitted to fly home on another aircraft of Zest Air Asia.

Meanwhile CAAP is sending investigation team to Kalibo to check on the airworthiness of the aircraft and investigate the crew as well as secure data from the flight data recorder.

Agusta Westland Delivers Navy Choppers

13 December 2013

Agusta Westland has delivered to the Philippines Sunday three of five AW109 maritime choppers intended for the Philippine Navy.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said the three multi-role choppers were assembled at Agusta Westland Hangar in Manila airport and flew to Sangley Airbase in Cavite on test flights yesterday. They will be commissioned before the end of the year after extensive testing.

Fabic said the AW109 has a "forward looking infrared (FLIR)" for enhanced search and rescue (SAR) capability and fitted with a night vision gear making it very ideal to conduct missions during the night-time. It can also be fitted in the future with dipping sonar and magnetic anomaly detection device

The anti-submarine helicopters will be deployed to the navy's flagship warships — BRP Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz.

The remaining two combat choppers are scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2014. 

Meanwhile, a separate procurement for two (2) heavier variant Anti- Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopter is being prepared by the Philippine Navy due to the weight of its propose sonar equipment.

Meet Farah Adam

Ormoc Airport's One Woman Show

12 December 2013

Air traffic controller Farah Adam jots down some notes in between guiding aircraft landing and taking off from Ormoc City airport. (photo by Tony Ahn for
Much has been said in praise and gratitude, and rightly so, for the disaster response and relief workers who rushed in to help the communities devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.

But there are those, too, whose work, while mostly unnoticed, is indispensable to ensuring the relief missions even take place at all.

Meet Farah Adam.

Farah is an air traffic controller with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and she was responsible for establishing flight operations in Ormoc City, allowing aircraft to bring in relief supplies, equipment and personnel and fly out refugees and relief workers rotating out.

In her mid-thirties, married with two kids, and a swimming and running enthusiast, Farah arrived in Ormoc on November 21.

The Ormoc airport has not been in commercial service since 2009.

Farah set herself up in a small office with a single window facing the airstrip and a radio set that had been brought in.

This, essentially, was the control tower.

Normally, airports have one or more controllers handling approach and departure, bent over radar screens in what is known as the Terminal Radar Approach Control Room.

There are other controllers who manage ground operations, deciding where an aircraft should taxi and park after landing, and which plane is to take off and when.

And then there are the ground marshals who manually signal the aircraft with orange wands.

They all communicate with each other to make operations as smooth and safe as possible.

In Farah’s case, she handled approach, departure, and ground operations all at the same time -- and with no radar.

When I first saw her in Ormoc on November 25, she was glued wide-eyed to her window, watching the sky for a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 that was preparing to land.

There were two in the air at the time.

With pencil in one hand and radio microphone in the other, she issued clearances in response to requests from the aircraft, moving swiftly from one activity to another: watching the sky, talking on the radio, poring over charts and other papers.

She had no radio to communicate with the ground marshals directing the aircraft.

Instead, she turned to a man standing in the doorway and said: “Can you ask the ground crew to direct this landing aircraft to park on the south end? And would you mind asking if they can unload it?”

She explained to "They're with the RAAF and this isn't one of their aircraft, but there's no one else to unload it, so I have to ask a favor."

Later, finding no available runner at the door, Farah dropped her mike and sprinted outside herself as a C-130 touched down to talk to the ground marshals directly.

Then she sprinted back inside to monitor the radio.

This was her job from sunrise to sunset every day.

“We’re unconventional, but we’re safe,” she said with a smile when she finally got a moment to speak to

“I arrived on November 21. As per Atty. Gonzalez, our Air Traffic Services Head, I was tasked to establish an Ormoc flight service station to provide safe, efficient, orderly, and expeditious air traffic service, and to coordinate with the US forces and other contingents for the allocation and division of labor, as well as reiterating the role and mandate of CAAP in providing safe Philippine skies.” got another chance to talk to her, by phone this time, when she returned to Ormoc for a five-day rotation.

"It was beneficial to be deployed here because it is really fulfilling," she said. "We made a small contribution, by sending supplies in and sending refugees out, and negotiating with various carriers to get them taken onward to Manila and Cebu, as well as get disaster relief workers ferried out who were going home. I'm on my second cycle here and I'm not regretting it."

Indeed, while disaster response and relief workers get the lion’s share of the gratitude and praise for their tireless work, there are others - pilots, drivers, ground crew, air traffic controllers and many others - whose work helps facilitate the missions of all other disaster relief agencies.

Meet Farah Adam, air controller and post-Yolanda heroine.

Australia's Ormoc Airport

11 December 2013

© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

If the United States of America took care of Guiuan airport and the rest of Samar Island, and Canada establishes DART hub at Iloilo airport for Panay Island operations, the mates down under assumed responsibility for assisting the Government of the Philippines in heavily damaged Ormoc airport, about 500 of them, as they put up base for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST to support Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. 

The ADF commitment includes command and control elements from the Deployable Joint Forces Headquarters, Army Engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, Amphibious ship HMAS Tobruk and logistics aircraft.

Command ship HMAS Tobruk, which sailed from Townsville on 18 November and arrived Ormoc November 26 is anchored off Ormoc City with a Recovery Support Force composed of teams from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Australian government personnel which is based at Ormoc Airport, while the airlift support is based at Mactan Cebu International Airport being provided by Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft.

Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules pilot, Flight Lieutenant Christian Yates-Round wearing the Philippine Air Force insignia at Ormoc Airport
HMAS Tobruk’s embarked MRH-90 helicopter arrives at Ormoc Airport
A landing craft departs HMAS Tobruk loaded with Australian Army Engineer equipment for the Recovery Support Force

ADF repaired newly finished but typhoon destroyed Ormoc airport terminal providing temporary roof on the facility

When a smile isn't even enough to say THANK YOU!

Jetstar Australia's Philippine Dilemma

 Good Times are over!

10 December 2013

Darwin JETSTAR Australia has announced that it will dump flights to Manila from Darwin and Manila Tokyo beginning March 31 next year due to "increased capacity and competition" from foreign carriers, particularly Philippine Airlines.

Passengers in the Northern territory wishing to travel to Manila and Tokyo on Jetstar would now have to fly to Singapore and connect with a Jetstar Asia service to Japan and the Philippine capital.

Jetstar and Philippine Airlines (PAL) operates four weekly flights between Darwin and Manila with the former enjoying fifth freedom traffic rights to Japan, and is flying to Tokyo. 

But Philippine Airlines' decision to launch flights to Darwin last June onwards to Brisbane and Perth is understood to have been a factor in their decision as they've been operating previous monopoly on this lucrative but marginal routes.

PAL Left Perth but stayed in Brisbane and lately upgraded capacity between Manila, Darwin and Brisbane with much bigger A321 jet beginning November 16 suggesting a growing traffic on a similar frequency after the legacy carrier dump prices on its LCC competitor.

Jetstar's departure would allow PAL to fly daily to Darwin and re-introduce Perth to its growing network.

Jetstar right to Japan would further be diluted upon the expansion of PAL flights to Tokyo this month adding 100 percent of existing capacity beginning December 15 from PAL alone.

Philippine bilateral rights to Japan has been constricted for eight years before they were expanded in September allowing the Philippines to mount more flights to Japan. The restriction did not affect the fifth freedom rights granted to Australia.

Jetstar will also cut the number of Darwin-Denpasar flights from eight per week to daily, and between Darwin and Brisbane from nine to seven per week, while the number of flights from Darwin and Singapore will be reduced from nine per week to daily flights.

Qantas says increased competition in Darwin and Manila has contributed to its problem as it seeks to cut costs by $2 billion over the next three years and consider restructuring the company to address problems contributing to a first-half underlying pre-tax loss of up to $300 million. 

Spokesman Stephen Moynihan said the decision to drop Manila flights is because of Jetstar shifting its three Airbus A320 aircraft stationed at Darwin to Adelaide to establish a new cabin crew and pilot base in the South Australian capital. He said the move will see 93 flight attendant and pilot jobs cut from Darwin, but 120 new jobs created in Adelaide.

PAF Helicopter Crash Landed

7 December 2013

A Huey Helicopter (UH-1H no. 940) from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crash-landed at La Paz Town in Leyte around 3:30 pm Friday injuring all eight passengers and crew on board. The chopper was piloted by Capt. Eddie As-il and was carrying relief goods and two personnel from the DSWD from Tacloban Airport and was heading to La Paz when hovering for landing its engine suddenly conked out.

Investigations are on going on the cause of the crash.

PAL Arrives Riyahd

2 December 2013

Philippine Airlines (PAL) returns to Riyadh yesterday after suspending service two years ago on March 2011. This time, PAL uses the smaller variant of its fleet, a brand new Airbus 330-343X (RP-C8782) that  replaces the bigger B747-400 aircraft it once used. It will also re-introduce regular services to Dammam on Dec. 3 and Jeddah early next year also with the same aircraft type.

Flights to Riyadh (PR654) depart Manila every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8:15 AM, arriving at King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, at 1:30 PM of the same day.

Flights to Dammam (PR682) leave Manila every Monday, Tuesday and Saturday at 1:35 PM, arriving at King Fahd International Airport, Dammam, at 6:00 PM of the same day.

PAL first flew to Riyadh on March 1st, 1987 while flights to Dammam started on July 3, 1982 landing at Dhahran International Airport. The service moved to King Fahd International Airport in November 1999 after the new airport was open. The service was suspended in August 2001 after the company went into receivership.