CAAP still optimistic on Category 1 upgrade

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The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said on Friday that second visitation from United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is ongoing and all indications are positive toward a possible upgrade to Category 1 before the year ends.

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“Insofar as the FAA Category 1 upgrade is concerned, I would like to report that the CAAP signed last June 4, 2013 a two-year Technical Assistance Services Agreement with the FAA,” said William Hotchkiss 3rd, director general of CAAP.

Hotchkiss also said that, “It is now being implemented, and as I speak, a second visitation from the FAA is ongoing and all indications are positive toward a possible upgrade before the end of the year.”

He also said that, “The last remaining hurdles, which are considered show stoppers are: provision to authorize the Republic of the Philippines to transfer its State of Registry responsibilities to the State of the Operator; and the creation of an independent and separate government agency to handle aircraft accident investigation to replace the present Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board.”

Although multiple bills to establish a National Transportation Safety Board have been proposed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, none has received priority or passage.

On July 10, the European Union (EU) said that it will allow flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights to Europe after banning it for almost three years. From June 3 to 7 this year, an EU team was in the country to assess the country’s aviation safety measures and determine if the Philippines should be removed from the EU airline blacklist.

Earlier, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that he was hoping that the validation of EU representatives in the Philippines will lead to the country being removed from the union’s blacklist.

An assessment by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October 2012 showed improvements. Progress regarding the implementation of safety measures by two biggest airlines in the country, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, were also noted.

In February 2013, another ICAO audit found that the Philippine aviation agency has taken sufficient corrective actions to meet international standards.

The country is also looking for a higher aviation safety rating from the FAA before the end of the year.

In 2008, the FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status for not complying with international aviation safety standards. Category 2 prevents airlines from the Philippines from adding new routes to the US.

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