US aviation agency to do own audit of PH

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@paolomontecillo

02:43 AM March 21st, 2013

By: Paolo G. Montecillo, March 21st, 2013 02:43 AM

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has chosen to conduct its own audit on the Philippines, ignoring the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) recent lifting of “significant safety concerns” (SSC) on the country.

Transportation Undersecretary Catherine Gonzales on Wednesday disclosed that administration officials were in discussions with the FAA on a possible audit later this year.

This comes after a recent ICAO audit that found the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the local industry’s chief regulator, in compliance with international safety norms.

“The audit will be for the lifting of our category 2 status,” Gonzales told reporters. The country’s current category 2 status with the FAA prevents local airlines from starting flights to the United States.

Those already operating in the US are also banned from expanding operations or even using different aircraft than those already in use in 2007 when the country received its downgrade.

“We are very hopeful that we can pass,” Gonzales said, citing again the country’s recent success with the ICAO audit. The ICAO audit was used by the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) to put the country’s airlines on a blacklist of carriers barred from mounting flights to the European Union (EU).

Local airlines were also banned from entering EU airspace. The DOTC expects the Easa to remove local airlines from the blacklist following the ICAO audit.

The DOTC has also previously hoped that the FAA would also adopt the findings of the ICAO, which is an agency attached to the United Nations. The FAA downgrade of the Philippines was handed down two years before the EU ban.

The lifting of the EU and US bans will pave the way for the more aggressive expansion of local airlines, particularly flag carrier Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Both have announced plans to strengthen long-haul operations starting this year.

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