MANILA, Philippines - Philippine aviation authorities are hopeful the Philippines will finally get an upgrade from the US Federal Aviation Administration as early as October.
William Hotchkiss III, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), on Friday said a US FAA team leader is set to visit the country either September or October.
"We don’t know when that will be, it could be sometime by September or October. We’ll know by that time whether there are any other remaining hurdles," he said.
The US FAA downgraded the Philippines' safety rating to Category 2 in 2008, upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization after the CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.
Hotchkiss said they are confident the Philippines will regain Category 1 status as early as October.
He noted an FAA official is in the country, as part of a two-year Technical Assistance Services Agreement signed last June 4.
"It is now being implemented, and as I speak, a second visitation from the FAA is on-going and all indications are positive towards a possible upgrade before the end of the year," he said.
However, there are some remaining obstacles to the Philippines' upgrade, such as the the amendment to provisions of Republic Act 9497 (the law that created CAAP) to create a separate entity handling aircraft accident investigation to replace the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board.
"The last remaining hurdles, which are considered show stoppers are: the amendment of RA 9497 to authorize the Republic of the Philippines to transfer its State of Registry responsibilities to the State of the Operator; the creation of an independent and separate government agency to handle aircraft accident investigation to replace the present AAIIB,” he said.
Hotchkiss noted none of the bills proposing to create a National Transportation Safety Board have been passed by Congress.