Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Robredo plane crash an accident — Revilla

source: tribune.net.ph

It was purely an accident, no foul play, an official of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said before members of the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Civil Aviation (COCCAAP) yesterday, referring to the Aug. 18 plane crash off Masbate that killed former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and two others.

“It is an accident. Maybe it was an accident waiting to happen,” thus said CAAP deputy director general Capt. John Andrews to the committee chaired by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

“We’re very sure on that. (It was established that) there was no foul play,” Revilla told reporters after the proceedings, adding that they held an executive session where the matter of the said incident cropped up in reviewing the implementation of Civil Aviation Act of 2008, the law that paved the way for the creation of CAAP.

The senator did not go into details of the closed-door session, but was firm in dismissing other reasons or causes of the plane crash other than its being accidental. Robredo was reportedly investigating a number of supposed controversies such as an alleged questionable arms deal by the Philippine National Police (PNP) before he died.

These findings should end finger-pointing to who is to blame for the incident, Revilla said.
The senator said he called for the en banc meeting of the oversight committee to also review the safety standards covering aviation service in the country.
He said the Congressional panel is now working on updating policies to bring up Philippine aviation to Category 1 from its current Category 2 status.

But as it is, the CAAP is found to be still lacking in qualified technical personnel and modern equipment necessary for the country’s civil aviation industry to regain first class status, even after four years of existence.

Revilla disclosed that since the enactment of Republic Act 9497, the COCCAAP had convened several times to ask the officials CAAP what assistance they needed to regain Category 1 status after the downgrade to Category 2 by the US-based Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

“This is aside from our blacklisting by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which blocks our carriers from flying to and from European countries. After four years since the establishment of CAAP, four replacements of its leadership, as well as several en banc meetings where we were assured that the civil aviation industry is on the right track towards Category 1, we are still far away (from achieving) that status,” said Revilla, chairman of COCCAAP.
Officials of CAAP revealed that it still has not fully addressed the Significant Safety Concerns raised by FAA and ICAO.

“One of the Safety Concerns is the hiring of qualified technical personnel (QTP). The CAAP admitted that this requirement is not fully complied (with). We are asking them to set a time frame to fulfil this obligation. What we need (are) concrete measures, not pending promises,” the lawmaker said.

Also discussed during the meeting was the Robredo plane crash which revealed the lack of equipment the CAAP needed to effectively respond to emergency cases.
“Among the prerequisites for us to regain the Category 1 status and be excluded from the EU’s blacklist is to have at least two fire trucks per airport. I believe CAAP has enough funds to purchase these fire trucks and other stand by equipment in case there is impending plane accident,” Revilla pointed out.

The lawmaker also expressed dismay over the reported issuance of licenses to flying schools that do not even own a single airplane and the alleged “free rides” given by plane operators to CAAP employees inspecting their airplanes.

“How could they produce qualified pilots if there is no hands-on flight training? Even these flying schools rent planes from other flying schools, I doubt if their students can have the proper pilot skills with the limited actual training.”
He asked “what is the purpose of the free rides other than to be lax in the conduct of inspection? This is tantamount to indirect bribery. We are putting the lives of the airplane passengers and pilots at risk here?”

source: tribune.net.ph

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