PH hopes for positive news from visiting US FAA officials
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is expecting a visit from officials of the United States Federal Aviation Administration this Novmber, a government official said on Thursday.
CAAP deputy director general John Andrews said the visit was tentatively scheduled for November. He, however, declined to give additional details.
The agency said the FAA might finally remove a multiyear category 2 “downgrade” and restore the Philippines’ category 1 status by November this year. The downgrade has since prevented local carriers from expanding their operations in the United States.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said there was no reason for the FAA to maintain the country’s category 2 rating given that the Philippines had complied with the standards of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) early this year. This led to the lifting on flight ban on local carriers to Europe on July 12.
“So far, we have been receiving positive feedback and we remain optimistic,” Abaya said in a text message.
Only flag carrier Philippine Airlines mounts flights to the United States. However, its ability to expand in this market is limited by the current restrictions. Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s largest budget carrier, said it was also keen on mounting flights to the US and was eyeing Hawaii as a potential destination.
FAA safety inspectors have been making regular visits to the Philippines as part of a technical assistance program signed in June, which called for a two-year monitoring period.
The FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to fly to the US and makes that information available to the public.
The assessments are aimed at determining whether foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards.
CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III said in a previous interview that even with the restoration to Category 1 status, the FAA could again downgrade the Philippines if it would fail to meet certain requirements under the technical assistance program.
CAAP earlier called for an amendment to Republic Act 9497 to include certain provisions that would authorize the government to transfer its so-called state of registry obligations to the state of the operator and to create a separate agency to handle aircraft accident investigations.
The European Union ban has been in place since 2010, a year after the ICAO found “significant safety concerns” in the country’s aviation standards. The FAA downgrade, meanwhile, was imposed in 2008.
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