Sangley to Open Civilian Traffic In September

28 December 2018

Sangley International Airport will open to the public beginning September 2019, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said in a statement Friday.

The airport will start handling general aviation flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after runway improvement projects, apron, and hangar constructions are completed.

The Transport Department(DOTr) has spent ₱552.87 million for runway rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of the entire stretch to prepare it to civil aviation traffic and domestic turboprop operations.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo said that the government is almost done with its construction plan to develop Sangley airport for commercial operations targeted at general aviation.

“It will be operational by third quarter of next year,” Tamayo said.

DOTr disclosed that once Sangley is open to the public in September, general aviation and business jets are no longer allowed to land and depart at NAIA as they are already informed two years ago to relocate to Sangley airport in Cavite beginning 4th quarter of next year after completion of construction and repair works.

DOTr is currently lengthening Sangley airport runway to 2,300 meters and widening its base to 45 meters to comply with international standards. It is also building a 150 capacity passenger terminal building to process arriving and departing domestic and international passengers.

Another ₱200 million is earmarked for navigational facilities improvement to enable it to operate at night and in all-weather conditions.

Royal Air Spreads Wing

Flies Caticlan

20 December 2018

Royal Air Charter Service Inc., a Philippine-registered air carrier doing business as Royal Air has commence daily flight between Clark to Caticlan beginning December 14, 2018 through BAE146-100 plane.

Ed Novillas, CEO of Royal Air Philippines said it will start daily flights to Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Tagbilaran and San Vicente (Palawan) from Clark International Airport soon.

Royal Air was recently given the authority to operate as a commercial scheduled airline with both domestic and international flights by the Civil Aeronautics Board on July 26. It operates a single Bae146 (RP-C8960) for its fleet and two other aircraft for cargo operations.

The new carrier began life as a cargo shipment air-carrier in 2002 and has been doing regular charter flights to Lallo airport in Cagayan from Clark, its main base of operation and international points in Hongkong and Macau.

Davao ATM Opens In April

18 December 2018
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) will transfer the Davao airspace radar approach control service to the new Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) at the CAAP compound in Pasay on April 19 completing the transition of approach facilities to the new ATMC using the state of the art Communications, Navigation, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system that will enhance the safety and efficiency of air traffic, therefore enabling a more definite aircraft identification and better airspace management in Davao.

Changi Airport Wins Clark O&M

16 December 2018

The Changi Airport headed North Luzon Airport Consortium won the operations and maintenance contract of Clark International Airport’s existing passenger terminal, and the new terminal building set to be operational by 2020, the Department of Transportation said Friday.

The North Luzon Airport Consortium members includes Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. and Changi Airport Philippines Pte. Ltd.

Clark International Airport will open a new 4 million per annum  low cost terminal in the first half of 2020.

The new 100,000-square-meter terminal will double its capacity to eight million passengers a year as it makes way to become the primary low cost gateway to the country.

Clark International Airport has a current annual capacity of four million passengers. It registered 1.8 million passengers up to November 2018.

Airlines operating international flight in Clark include Qatar Airways, Scoot, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Asiana Airlines, Dragon Air, T'way, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Jetstar Asia, China Eastern and Emirates Airlines with flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Macau, Pudong, Incheon, Doha, and Dubai.

Antique Airport Re-opens

16 December 2018

Philippine Airlines has re-launch its services to Antique as it began on Sunday its Antique-Clark route twice a week.

The twice-weekly route will be serviced by PAL's brand new 86-seater Bombardier Next Generation Q400 aircraft, the company said in a statement.

Flight PR2205 departs from Clark every Sunday and Tuesday at 6 a.m., arriving at the Evelio B. Javier airport in San Jose de Buenavista in Antique at 7:20 a.m.

Flight PR2206, on the other hand, departs from Antique at 7:40 a.m., arriving in Clark at 9 a.m.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo,opens back the airport and welcome the return of PAL to Antique after 21 years of absence.

The Fokker-50 service has since been replaced by Asian Spirit (now AirAsia) Dash 7 until 12 years ago when it stopped operations due to economic non-viability with passengers opting to travel to nearby Iloilo for flights.

“After 12 years ago, the airport has returned to commercial operation,” Tamayo said

Trump Returns Balangiga Bells

The Spirit of MacArthur Carries them Home

11 December 2018

In the Spirit of MacArthur, a C-130J transport plane of the United States Air Force has returned the Balangiga bells to the country 117 years after it was taken in 1901 during the American-Philippine War at Balangiga Town in Eastern Samar.
The return was made possible after President Donald Trump promised President Rodrigo Duterte of its return to the country.

AH-1W for Attack Chopper?

10 December 2018

The U.S Department of Defense is in talks with their Philippine counterpart on the acquisition of 10 AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, with 2 frames possibly funded by Foreign Military Sales (FMS) assistance.

The US Department of Defense also puts the Philippines on notice that they might get a surplus fleet of 12 AH-1W Super Cobras retired by the US marines last year which the US started selling on the international arms market or donated via foreign military assistance (FMS). The newer AH-1W could also be upgraded to AH-1Z standards should the PAF put more money into the program.

Under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), the Philippine Air Force planned to acquire 24 attack helicopters valued at US$260 million (13.8 billion pesos).

Decision to buy purpose-built attack helicopters gained traction in 2018 after Jordan donated 2 used AH-1F attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force and the contenders for the project suddenly changed to Bell AH-IZ, Boeing AH-64E, Mil-28, Mil-24, TAI-129, and the Airbus EC665, which restricted quantity to at least 10 from the initial 24.

At US$260 million budget, Russia scored the highest number of 24 helicopters at US$12 million each for the Mi-24 (Hind) followed by Turkey with about 10 T-129 helicopters. The most expensive was Boeing with six Apaches followed by Airbus and Bell.

While Russia could have been a sure winner, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017 was the compelling reason which prevented the Philippines from dealing financial matters with Russia in US dollars so the PAF TWG selected the next best thing which is the T-129 helicopter that is smaller and lighter than Russia’s Mi-28 or the USA’s AH-64 Apache helicopter. TWG decision to secure the T-129 as the PAF attack helicopter was made prior to the US Department of Defense prohibition against export of the T-129 powerplants to other countries outside Turkey.

Discussions on the possible acquisition of AH-1W SUPER COBRA Attack Helicopters and associated equipment, together with parts, training and logistical support instead of the AH-1Z came into being only in September 18 in Pentagon when these were raised between US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana meeting at Washington among other defense related acquisitions and concerns.

The amount which covers about 8 new Bell AH-1W Attack Helicopters together with associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support will be supplemented by possible FMS equivalent to additional two to four frames according to DND source.

The Philippines will also have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters and its T700-GE-401 engines into its armed forces as these are all made in the USA.

Blackhawks, Finally

9 December 2018
United States Navy (USN) UH-60 delivering relief goods to tyhoon Yolanda victims in Leyte

The Philippine Air Force’s technical working group (TWG) has identified Sikorsky UH60 (Blackhawk) as the combat utility helicopter that would replace the mothballed Bell 412 EPIs, while the selection of the T129 ATAK of the Turkish Aerospace Industries may be reconsidered for its attack helicopter project choice due to power-plant problems.

“The Air Force TWG has come up with the recommendation for Black Hawk and T129 but I think we have problems with the T129,” says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The Defense Minister said that 16 units of the blackhawk helicopters will be provided by Sikorsky for $240 million, the same amount earmarked for the Bell 412s.

Lorenzana explained that Sikorsky originally offered 9 frames for the latest UH-60M variant while South Korea's Surion helicopter offered 10 for the same money, but the United States (US) through the U.S. Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program offered to finance the balance of the purchase price for the remaining six for a total of 16.

Lorenzana added that while the PAF wanted Bell 412s possibly made in America, they still requires an engine build in Canada so the problem would still be there as what is now happening with the Pratt & Whitney PT6T engine parts of existing 412s. He said the T129 selected by TWG is heading in the same direction of the 412s if it pushes through as selections were made prior to events leading to export ban of T129s engine outside of Turkey.

Lorenzana said the contract for the Blackhawk choppers would be signed early 2019, while that of the T129 attack helicopter project would be deliberated further considering that they already received warnings from their US counterpart.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has called off the deal to acquire 16 Bell 412 EPI helicopters from Canadian Commercial Corporation earlier this year after Canadian Parliament ordered a review of the government's acquisition for its use for offensive operations instead of transport missions.

PAF Committee Selects T129 Attack Helecopter

But Will It Fly?

4 December 2018

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) selection committee has finally selected to acquire an attack helicopter from Turkey.

The variant selected was the TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK, which is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. The T129 is being produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland.

The controversial selection however missed the point of being an attack helicopter, its powerplant.

The United States (US) has officially denied Turkey, its NATO ally, a certificate to export the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) helicopter engines that powers the PAF attack helicopter, and that brings problem to the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) that manufactures the desired helicraft.

The LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines are produced by a joint venture of the US-based manufacturer Honeywell and Britain’s Rolls-Royce.

The Turkish company failed to obtain export license from the US Department of Defense. The license is required for the US-made parts of the engines that are meant to power the aircraft. The prohibition applies to all country exports and not merely Pakistan, also a US ally.

The sales prohibitions came after Turkey purchased Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems in defiance of Washington’s warnings.

A similar warning was made to the Philippines last month when Russia offered top-of-the-line military hardware to the country which put military officials on pause.

This early, the PAF already had difficulty securing engine parts for its Bell 412s and AW109 due to Canada's objections.

The engine embargo could potentially affect the needs of the Philippines, a US ally,  as the alternative Rolls Royce engine is far inferior to that offered by the American company.