CAAP: No final aviation audit yet

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 03 2012 09:12 AM | Updated as of Nov 04 2012 08:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director William Hotchkiss dismissed yesterday reports that the Philippines had failed to pass an audit of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which allegedly found two significant safety concerns in the country’s civil aviation system.

In a statement released by the Department of Transportation and Communications, Hotchkiss said that the ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) team has not yet made their final audit report, which is scheduled for release in February 2013.

An initial report is set to be released 15 days from yesterday.

“This was a premature reading of a report that was given to media, wherein the finding was still going to be provided by the ICAO ICVM team 15 days from now,” Hotchkiss said.

Hotchkiss explained that the ICVM was still a work in progress and the final report will be made by team leader Henry Gourdji three months from now.

“A draft report will also be given to CAAP 15 days from now. In the meantime, the ICVM team has given CAAP some items to address between now until the final report comes out in February next year. Members of the ICVM team will come to monitor CAAP’s progress on the remaining safety concerns, which was quoted in media as 89 in 2007 (and) only 2 as of now,” Hotchkiss said.

“Faultfinders of CAAP will have to review their mathematics upon which they base their conclusions. Certainly, 2 out of 89 is just 2.2 percent. Therefore, 97.8 percent of the significant safety concerns have been addressed already,” Hotchkiss explained.

DOTC sources said the reported CAAP failure to get an upgrade from the ICAO was a mix-up of the ICAO audit with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) 2007 rating category downgrade of the Philippines.

Hotchkiss added that the CAAP team under his leadership is positive that it will be able to address the remaining safety issues before the final ICVM report comes out in February 2013, and the lifting of the European Union (EU) ban is expected after the ICAO Significant Safety Concerns are fully addressed.

“The FAA upgrade from Category 2 to Category 1 should follow after that. Both EU and the US FAA follow international aviation safety standards set by ICAO,” Hotchkiss said.

The government is intent on regaining Category 1 with the US FAA after the latter downgraded the country’s aviation industry to Category 2 in late December 2007, citing significant safety, oversight and management shortcomings. The downgrade meant that Philippine carriers could not get more flights to the US.

The country was then dealt a double whammy when the ICAO raised “significant safety concerns” on the country’s civil aviation systems during an audit conducted under its Universal Oversight Audit Program in 2009, which subsequently led to the Philippines getting placed on the European Union’s blacklist.