ICAO-Sanctioned Airport Design Best for PH

Philippines stands to gain from airport design following the design requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), considering that the Southeast Asian nation aims to have 10 million tourists starting 2016.
Aside from improving safety and security of passengers and airport staff, improving an airport design will boost efficiency and will make the process of travelling more enjoyable, the Australian embassy in Manila said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
“This will be particularly beneficial as the Philippines prepares for the projected influx of around 10 million foreign visitors in 2016,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddel said.
In this light, the Philippine Office for Transport Security has partnered with Australia and Korea for a workshop on how airport design can help improve security, the embassy said, noting the Philippine government has recently allocated significant funding for the upgrade of 24 airports and the refurbishment of several international terminals across the country.
“These works are required to incorporate new aviation security standards and infrastructure,” it added.
The Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is hosting the forum in a bid to provide information to airport operators and Philippine authorities on the ICAO requirements for airport design.

ICAO is a United Nations specialized agency that develops international standards and recommended practices for civil aviation.
Incheon International Airport Corporation Security Screening team deputy director Jonathon Lee, an expert in security by design and an ICAO universal security program auditor, is conducting the workshop.

The work done by ICAO and other convention signatories provides examples of best practice to ensure a consistent approach to security measures can be implemented across aviation transport network, the Australian embassy said.

Last month, the Wall St. Cheat Sheet, a US-based website, listed Ninoy Aquino International Airport as among the world’s worst airports.
The Guide to Sleeping in Airports travel site community also voted NAIA Terminal 1 as the world’s worst airport in 2011 and in 2013 and the worst airport in Asia in 2012. – Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza/VS, GMA News

Airlines Look For Ways To Swiftly Adopt Tracking System

Qatar_Airways_Boeing_777-300ER_A7-BACMystified by the loss of Malaysian jetliner MH370, some airlines will not wait for an industry wide solution to keeping track of their aircraft flights in real time, provided products are offered at the right price, industry executives said yesterday.

The disappearance of Malaysian Airline Systems’ flight MH370 almost three months ago has prompted calls for real-time tracking of planes and even continuous streaming of black box data.

“It must not happen again,” Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at its annual meeting in Doha yesterday.

IATA, which brings together over 200 airlines accounting for 84% of the world’s air traffic, is planning to put aircraft tracking proposals to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September, which in turn says a standard could be in place in two to three years.

However, individual airlines could move sooner than that, Tyler said.

“It is the sort of issue where before regulations actually start to bite, airlines will already have made arrangements, they aren’t going to wait,” he said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Qatar Airways, hosting the meeting, said the technology to track planes was available today, citing the possible adaptation to tracking of the existing ACARS Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System as an example, which can deliver communication in short bursts, although it is not continual.

“Qatar is keen to explore this,” Chief Executive Akbar al Baker told reporters.

Industry-owned air transport communications company SITA also said yesterday it was developing a new tracking system that uses technology already installed in aircraft and SITA’s despatch and operations systems.

It said the system was currently being evaluated by several airlines and because it uses system that are already installed, it won’t mean extensives costs for airlines. Industry sources also said Malaysia Airlines was already looking at options that it will implement as soon as possible across its fleet.

For airlines though, a big issue will be ensuring costs for any technology do not spiral out of control, given the industry’s already tight profit margins.

IATA said yesterday its airlines would collectively make a profit of $18bn this year, cutting its forecast from a previous estimate of $18.7bn in March. That would equate to a net profit margin of 2.4%, compared with 1.5% in 2013.

“If it is prohibitively expensive we have to see where the cost benefit is,” Andrew Herdman, director-general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said.

“It is not a question of affordability, that is the wrong way of thinking of it in terms of individual airlines. But if it makes sense, the cost is not the issue.”

Airline executives at the IATA meeting said that ultimately costs would be passed onto passengers, rather than governments.

“If we ask governments, some countries, to do this, then there is the issue of national security and defence,” Osamu Shinobe, president and chief executive of All Nippon Airways , said.

However, Willy Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways and Iberia’s parent ICAG, said that there were still “issues that need to be understood”.

“I have no problem with something mandatory if it is a sensible solution and we seek to maximise the use of existing technology,” he added.

Aircraft operated by IAG send out perfomance data through ACARS every 30 minutes and this includes their position, he added.

Meanwhile Air France-KLM said in a statement that since 2009 Air France aircraft have transmitted their position every 10 minutes. That is reduced to one minute if there is an abnormal deviation. KLM has decided to follow suit, it added.

“The measures we have already implemented in this field are efficient and easy to apply,” said Alexandre de Junaic, chairman and chief executive of Air France-KLM.

SITA also said the enhanced tracking capability it was ready to introduce used existing technology that it provides and is already installed on aircraft.

“The solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines,” SITA added in a statement.

Tyler said IATA’s recommendations to be put to ICAO in September would focus only on the tracking of planes and not involve the continuous streaming of data, which would be more complicated to implement. “We must find a way of doing it that doesn’t add significantly to cost. Margins are very thin in the business,” he said.

Asked why it had taken so long to make proposals on tracking, despite calls for action after the Air France 447 crash in 2009, ICAO’s president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said it simply took time to find a global consensus.

“We have set in motion a process now,” he said.

Source: Gulf Times

Airlines Losing Php7 Billion Due To Congested Airport

Image Source: Angelo Agcamaran

MANILA, Philippines—Not just passengers’ frayed nerves but the bottom lines of airlines operating in the country’s premier gateway are also suffering from the horrors of air traffic congestion.

The airlines have been incurring losses of more that P7 billion a year from the massive fuel expense because of the worsening congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), said deputy director general John Andrews of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Planes unable to immediately land, for example, would need to burn extra amounts of fuel, he said.

Andrews estimated that about 200,000 to 400,000 kilograms in additional fuel are expended as a result of the congestion, or P10 million to P20 million a day, by the airlines.

Airlines incur close to P3.7 billion a year in added fuel expenses and lose another P3.7 billion from “engine costs and cost of aircraft time,” he said.

For this reason, the airlines are supporting a plan to construct a second parallel runway for Naia, where capacity at its sole primary runway has been struggling to keep up with increasing demand for air travel, Andrews said.

According to Andrews, the second runway, at about 2,300-kilometers long, is shorter than the 3,400-km primary runway. But its completion will allow a 50 percent increase in take-off and landing events to 60 per hour from the existing 40, he said. It is estimated to cost P2 billion.

“I think I have already convinced Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary [Joseph Abaya] that this is the only option available to us,” Andrews said.

Abaya earlier said that a key issue was the expropriation of land, involving about 600 homes of squatters and private homeowners, but Andrews said this would not be a major issue for the government.

“This can easily be done with the proper political will,” he said.

Andrews said CAAP did not expect that there would be any compliance issues with international air safety bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“It is already ICAO compliant. There are no major problems or issues we cannot mitigate,” said Andrews, who was part of the team that played a key role in getting Philippine air safety upgrades from the United States and Europe.

Abaya had said in a previous interview that he supported a second parallel runway in Naia as it would be a faster fix than long-term proposals, which include building a new international airport.

San Miguel Corp., a part owner of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) are looking at possible locations in the Manila Bay and Sangley Point, Cavite, respectively, to build a new $10-billion air gateway designed with four runways on reclaimed land.

Abaya said it was unlikely for any new international airport serving Manila to start construction by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016.

Source: , PDI.


Gov’t Allots P2B for New Parallel Runway

IMG_841814828284562MANILA – The government is initially spending at least P2 billion to put up an alternative runway parallel to the existing runway to ease traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters on the sidelines of the 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia that the first phase of the project would involve the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway parallel or south of the existing primary runway 06/24.

“The first phase is P2 billion but we have to verify that. The new runway could allow Airbus A320 to land,” Abaya said.

According to him, the government would have to study the proposed runway as this could displace close to 600 houses in the Merville Subdivision beside the 400-hectare NAIA complex.

“Probably our biggest challenge is the 600 households that will be affected. We’re still verifying if they are informal settlers or private owners. I think at the end of the day that’s going to be the biggest challenge,” Abaya said.

Since the project would involve expropriation of land and relocation of families to be displaced, the DOTC chief said the agency needs the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as well as the National Housing Authority (NHA).

“The plan is the government will finance the relocation. So we need help from DPWH and NHA since we are not an expert in relocation,” Abaya added.

Another concern, he added, is the possibility that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could withdraw the certification of the existing runway once a new runway is constructed beside it.

“We’re also checking with ICAO. They are saying that when you have a precision landing certified runway and if you construct a new runway beside it the existing certification will be cancelled. We don’t want this to happen,” he said.

The DOTC chief said he has tasked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to check with ICAO so as not to compromise the certification of the existing runway.

He pointed out that the idea of constructing a new runway came from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) which also owns national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL).

Abaya said SMC and PAL argued that the Los Angeles Airport has a similar set up of parallel runways.

He added that the additional runway would increase the landings and take-offs at the congested international to between 60 and 70 events per hour from the current 40.

The NAIA was built in 1981 with two intersecting runways – primary runway 06/24 and secondary runway 13/31. Aviation authorities to cap the number aircraft movements at 40 per hour as it decided to move general aviation flights to Sangley  airport in Cavite.

Source: Lawrence Agcaoili, Philippine Star

Roxas Airport (RXS) Soon To Have Night Landing Operations


ROXAS CITY, Capiz, May 2 (PIA6) – The Roxas City airport is among the eight airports in the country that will be upgraded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to accommodate night landing operations.

This was disclosed by Sec. Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in time with the presence of Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) who graced the groundbreaking of the Philippine Coast Guard’s 1st Search and Rescue (SAR) base at Culasi Port here recently.

Roxas said that the construction of runway extension will accommodate bigger planes at the airport.

“More tourists and products will come in while our fresh seafood and other products can now be flown to other countries,” he said in Tagalog.

The DILG Secretary said that the Roxas City airport development, which also involves the construction of a perimeter fence, and rehabilitation and expansion of the passenger terminal building, is part of the country’s preparation for the 2015 ASEAN Free Trade Zone implementation which underscores the need for physical connectivity thru air, water and land to keep at pace with the globalization trend.

In April 2013, Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III led the groundbreaking of the multi-million airport development project at the Roxas City airport.

The other airports up for development to cater night landing operations are located in Butuan, Cotabato, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Dipolog, Ozamis, and Busuanga.

The DOTC and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have decided to upgrade the night landing operations of these airports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards to also ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Source: PIA/Alex A. Lumaque

ANALYSIS: Philippines On The Verge Of Tourism Boom After Aviation Upgrades

Central Business District of Makati City, Philippines

MANILA – With local carriers cleared to expand in the US and Europe, the Philippines is on the verge of a tourism boom.

After more than six years in Category 2, the Federal Aviation Administration earlier today announced the Philippines’ return to Category 1 safety rating, allowing local airlines to mount more flights to the US.

Hours later, the European Union delivered the day’s second good news: Cebu Pacific can now fly to Europe.

Brussels’ decision comes months after it allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights following a three-year absence, and almost a year since the International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO) lifted the significant safety concerns on the Philippines’ main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).


Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told Interaksyon.com that the latest two certifications are going to have a “massive” impact on Philippine tourism.

“Connectivity and accessibility are crucial to growth. We are ecstatic with these developments.  We are back on track,” Jimenez said.

He said the Department of Tourism (DOT) may revise its targets because of the upgrades even though there’s “not enough data yet to change projections.”

“We shall see how travel operators react and then we will know,” he said.

To be sure, the government hasn’t been waiting on the sidelines for tourists to come.

The DOT has been promoting the country through a campaign dubbed as “More Fun in the Philippines,” which has won international plaudits and allowed tourist arrivals to hit fresh records.

Last year, the country attracted 4.68 million foreign visitors, up 9.56 percent year-on-year.

For this year and next, the government is aiming for 6.8 million and 8.2 million, respectively, so that by the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term,  arrivals would have reached 10 million, with receipts of P455 billion.

The top visitors so far have been the Koreans, Chinese and Japanese – the result of the Philippines’ efforts to liberalize the country’s airspace, allowing local carriers to fly across Asia and Asian airlines to enter more points in the country.


Optimal connectivity

The aviation safety upgrades from the US and EU would further open these markets. Data from DOT show that visitors from the US reached 674,564 in 2013, up by 3.36 percent year-on-year, while those from European markets like the United Kingdom and Germany reaching 122,759 and 70,949 arrivals, respectively.

Rosanna Tuason-Fores, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said the country’s Category 1 status and the removal from the EU blacklist would provide more optimal connectivity in the trans-Pacific region.

“This will also allow us to be competitive as a route not just in the Philippines but also in the whole Asian region. We believe that with this new development, there will be a marked increase in the number of tourist arrivals both from the USA and Europe,” Fores said.

Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said the FAA upgrade and the removal from the EU blacklist would benefit the riding public, who will have improved options for air travel that are world class.

“It will also be a boost to our tourism efforts, because it will open up foreign markets for new and expanded services by Philippine carriers, not only in terms of direct services, but also for other cooperative arrangements like code sharing and interline,” Arcilla said.

Apart from ushering a new era in its trans-Pacific service, the upgrade will also allow PAL to explore possible airline partnerships with foreign carriers in order to maximize its growth potential, said the flag carrier’s president Ramon S. Ang.

“This latest development allows us to deploy our modern and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER fleet to the US, and enables us to explore new destination opportunities in one of the Philippines’ largest passenger markets,” Ang said.


“Back on global aviation map”

Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the upgrade will have significant economic dividends, as carriers mount more direct flights, boosting not only tourism, but also trade and business relations between the Philippines on the one hand, and the US and the EU on the other.

For example, “Philippine air carriers can now open more flights to the United States and have additional routes such as flying to the East Coast,” he added.

Henry J. Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, agreed.

“Tourism will definitely benefit creating more direct connections. Business travel will also gain with more direct flights – that will lead to more business activities between Europe and the Philippines,” Schumacher said.

“This is a great day for Philippine tourism,” he added.

Ang said the FAA upgrade means the Philippines has joined an elite group of only 79 countries that meet the US safety standards.

“This country is definitely back on the global aviation map,” he said.

Following the re-classification, the flag carrier would deploy six Boeing 777-300ERs, acquired at a cost of $1.2 billion, for US flights within a month’s time.


More infrastructure needed 

But while increasing connectivity is important, the Philippines still has its work cut out in terms of improving infrastructure.

“Building better airports for those flights to arrive at and many other improvements are needed before the full potential of tourism in the Philippines is realized,” John D. Forbes, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) senior adviser told Interaksyon.com.

He said “latent demand” stands at 12 million, thus “continued improvements in policies, infrastructure, and promotion are essential.”

Tourism Congress of the Philippines’ Fores agrees: “Infrastructure development must be accelerated.”

“More airports must be made available to international flights; more hotel rooms must be on hand to accommodate the increase in tourist arrivals,” she added.

To date, the NAIA has already exceeded it maximum annual capacity of 30 million passengers.

The government is well aware of this challenge.

It is looking at building a new international airport either in Sangley Point or Laguna de Bay. PAL also plans to put up a $10 billion airport near Manila – albeit the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said it won’t entertain unsolicited proposals.

Big-ticket projects are being pursued under the Aquino administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, but this has been slow to take off amid technical and other difficulties.

The government last week awarded its largest PPP airport project to date: the P17.2-billion upgrade of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which next to NAIA is the country’s second biggest international gateway.

Already delayed, the project is now faced with a legal challenge, after a senator asked the Supreme Court to void its award. Whether the High Tribunal would oblige, remains to be seen.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com

FAA Announces the Republic of the Philippines’ Aviation Safety Rating (Back to Cat.1)


WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Republic of the Philippines complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has been granted a Category 1 rating.

The country previously held a Category 1 rating until January 2008, when it was downgraded to a Category 2. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

The return to Category 1 status is based on a March 2014 FAA review of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, the Republic of the Philippines’ air carriers can add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.  IASA information is at www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/iasa/.

EU Lifts Ban on Cebu Pacific, Announcement on April 10

Photo Credit: Nikki Pili

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific of billionaire John Gokongwei Jr. is set to become the second local carrier allowed to fly to Europe.

Julian Vassallo, Chargè d’ Affaires of the European Union (EU), and officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are scheduled to announce in a press conference Thursday, April 10 the lifting of the EU ban on Cebu Pacific.

In July, the EU lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL), allowing the legacy carrier to fly to the 28-nation bloc again.

CAAP Director General Lt. Gen. William Hotchkiss III and CAAP Deputy Director General Capt. John Andrews will preside over the press conference Thursday. Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei is also expected to attend the event.

The EU blacklisted Philippine carriers in 2010 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) classified the Philippine aviation industry as “a significant safety concern.” CAAP failed to comply with safety standards that ICAO required.

ICAO scrapped this classification in March last year, prompting the EU to lift the ban on PAL. Jointly owned by tycoon Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, PAL started direct flights to London in November.

The EU however kept other local carriers on its blacklist, saying “progress [was] still needed to reach effective compliance.”

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said then that accidents involving Cebu Pacific planes showed some weaknesses.


A Cebu Pacific plane carrying 165 passengers overshot the runway of the Davao International Airport in June last year. No one was hurt in the incident, but several passengers complained it took a while before they were ushered out of the aircraft. Nearly two weeks after, another Cebu Pacific plane figured in an accident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cebu Pacific worked on addressing remaining safety concerns, and was supposed to seek the EU’s green light to fly to Europe in November. It postponed the plan to give way to rehabilitation efforts following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In January, Cebu Pacific informed the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the EU in Brussels that it already complied with all outstanding safety concerns.

Aside from the lifting of the EU ban, regulators are pursuing the upgrade of the Philippine aviation safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The US FAA downgraded the Philippines’ status to Category 2 from Category 1 in 2008 upon the recommendation of ICAO.

Category 2 prohibits Philippine carriers from mounting new and additional flights to the US. Airlines in Category 2 countries are also placed under heightened US FAA surveillance.

CAAP is confident an upgrade will be made soon. The US FAA is yet to release the results of an audit it conducted in March.

Source: Rappler.com

CAAP Flunks Anew to Regain Category 1


Source: Recto Mercene of Business Mirror (February 22, 2014)

PHILIPPINES aviation has failed anew to regain the Category 1 status that it lost seven years ago in 2007.

As in past attempts, the technical review team of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) thumbed down the efforts of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) last month.

In its exit briefing, the FAA team left no doubt that the country remains stuck under Category 2, or on the “unsafe status” list, of the FAA.

Under Category 2, major Philippines carriers cannot mount new flights to the United States.

The FAA exit briefing was recorded, and this story is based on five pages of transcript provided by sources at the CAAP.

The sources said the CAAP was keeping the findings under wraps while waiting for the FAA to make its announcement in Washington. It was gathered that an FAA team would come back in March to conduct another review.

“Most of the FAA findings are doable, but nobody in the CAAP is actually doing the actual work to conform with regulations,” CAAP insiders said.

Gregory Michael, head of the flight standards district office and FAA team leader, said the CAAP “has not complied with the Article of the Chicago Convention with regard to Amendment 37 to Annex 6, Part I, issued on March 28, 2013, related to the approach ban provision.”

The findings run under the title Primary Aviation Legislation, which said: “The personnel of the CAAP airmen examination board are not trained to administer and evaluate written theoretical examinations.”

The FAA team included Aviation Safety Inspectors LP Vanstory and Louie Alvarez, Senior Attorney Beverly Sharkey and Senior FAA Representative James Spillane.

Their January 24 exit briefing was attended by three top CAAP officials­—Deputy Director John Andrews; Beda Badiola, head of the Flight Safety Inspectorate Service (FSIS); and Rodante Joya, chief financial officer.

Andrews had vowed to resign if the Category 1 status was not regained by the end of December 2013. “If that [upgrade] does not happen, the buck stops with me. If this does not happen before the end of the year, I will no longer be here. Wait until January, then you can have my neck,” Andrews told the media back then. Andrews is now reportedly on sick leave, but is scheduled to report for work on February 17.

On February 3 Caap Director General William K. Hotchkiss replaced Andrews with Joya but four days later, Joya was replaced by Artemio Orozco, a retired two-star military general who was chief of staff of Hotchkiss, who is currently attending the Singapore Air Show 2014.

According to the transcript, the FAA said: “Records indicate that only one out of nine employees has four initial trainings. There is no evidence of having correct training in almost all of the Caap’s development course. None has completed the formal training policy and programs for operations, and Airworthiness Inspectors are not sufficient on on-the-job training.”

Under the title Technical Guidance, Tools and the Provision of Safety, Critical Information, the FAA remarked that “the CAAP does not contain complete policies, procedures and standards.”

The FAA also said the CAAP oversight system of Aviation Training Organization failed to ensure compliance with the Icao.

CAAP sources said these failures constituted half of the “eight critical elements” that the FAA has been monitoring for “safety oversight” compliance by civil aviation authorities (CAAs) of Icao member-countries and based on a checklist by Icao safety standards.

FAA rules require that the CAAs of Icao members have to hurdle all the eight critical elements under its check list before they can be upgraded to Category 1, or “safe status.”

Cebu Pacific Air Awaits OK on Europe Flights

Image Source: T. Laurent

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union is currently evaluating the application of Gokongwei-owned Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) to enter European airspace after the body partially lifted a ban and allowed flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) to fly to London last year.

Lawyer Jorenz Tanada, vice president for corporate affairs of Cebu Pacific, told The STAR that the budget airline has been advised by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to attend the Air Safety Committee (ASC) meeting of the EU this week.

“We were advised by the CAAP that the EU has invited Cebu Pacific to attend the Air Safety Committee meeting on March 26,” Tanada said.

(Ret.) Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of CAAP, confirmed that the application of Cebu Pacific to fly to Europe is now being evaluated by the commission.

“It will be done this week,” he confirmed.

In March of 2010, the 27-member European Commission imposed a ban on Philippine carriers from entering the European airspace after CAAP failed to reform the country’s civil aviation system as mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

However, the Philippines got a positive impression at the EU’s Air Safety Committee (ASC) in Belgium in June especially after ICAO lifted the remaining significant security concerns regarding the Philippines after the CAAP passed the audit conducted in February last year.

This paved the way for the partial lifting of the ban in July last year allowing PAL to mount direct flights to London last November.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.

Cebu Pacific informed the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) of the EU that the low cost carrier has already complied with all the outstanding aviation safety concerns just like PAL.

Tanada pointed out that Cebu Pacific and representatives from CAAP met in Brussels in January.

“There was a technical review meeting between representatives from CAAP, Cebu Pacific, and the EU DGMOVE last January 28 in Brussels,” he revealed.

It would be recalled that no less than Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei earlier announced that the budget airline would seek the green light from the EU to fly to European airspace in November last year.

Gokongwei assured that Cebu Pacific operates a safe airline despite the incident involving two of its aircraft at the Davao International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last June.

Since the incidents, Gokongwei said that the airline has complied with the recommendations of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) particularly on the training of its pilots as well as the review of its flight operating system by experts from Airbus.

However, the plan was deferred after Super Typhoon Yolanda battered several provinces in the Visayas region last Nov. 8.

Cebu Pacific is in the middle of a $4 billion re-fleeting program involving the acquisition of 49 Airbus aircraft as it gears up for long-haul flights to the United States and Europe.

Cebu Pacific has a fleet of 50 aircraft composed of 10 A319, 29 Airbus A320, three Airbus A330, and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft. It expects the delivery of 13 A320, 30 A321neo, and three A330 between 2014 and 2021.

Cebu Pacific is also looking at mounting flights to the US, particularly Guam and Hawaii once the country’s status is upgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) back to Category 1.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.

Source:  http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/23/14/cebu-air-awaits-ok-europe-flights