RP next flight-training capital in Asia — Angara

June 8, 2009 11:31 am 

MANILA, June 8 — Senator Edgardo Angara on Monday expressed optimism that the country will be the next flight-training capital in Asia.

According Angara, the country would greatly benefit from a single, centralized, and autonomous civil aviation authority to deal with matters of civil aviation.

"Countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Uganda, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore, the Fiji Islands, Ireland, Romania, Jamaica, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago have all restructured their regulatory policies and framework and created a 'stand-alone civil aviation authority' that had worked to their advantage in promoting their aviation industry and ensuring that they meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices," Angara, chairman of the senate committee on finance, added.

"The Civil Aviation Act, which I co-sponsored with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and was passed into law last year, creates the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. It is tasked to ensure the safe and efficient management of all aviation services to and from the Philippines. This development would surely aid our cause of improving the country's aviation authority," the senator also said.

Last week, one Filipino was identified among the 228 passengers of Air France Flight 447 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean en route to Paris from Brazil. Investigators spotted wreckage but no signs of life two days after the jet disappeared without any distress call. As no survivors have been found, it is considered the world's worst civil aviation disaster since the November, 2001 crash of an American Airlines jetliner in the Queens, New York City that killed 265 people.

In a similar but less fatal incident, a trainer pilot and his student were hurt after a two-seater plane crash-landed on a rice field in Plaridel, Bulacan last week.

Aircraft accidents are a tricky subject. While statistics show that there is significantly low risk in flying, the recent media reports of plane crashes bring the issue of air safety to the fore.

In January, a US Airways passenger jet carrying 155 people was forced to make a waterlanding in the Hudson River on one of the coldest days of the year. Fortunately, everyone on board was accounted for and alive.

A month later, a US passenger plane crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York state. The Continental Connection flight 3407 was five minutes from Buffalo airport when it came down. There were no survivors from the 45 passengers and four crew on board. Also in February, a Turkish Airlines jet crashed into a field on its approach to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens.

The International Air Transport Association, representing 230 airlines, said that the number of fatal air crashes increased to 23 in 2008 from 20 in 2007, while fatalities decreased to 502 from 692 the year before.

In light of the commercial plane crashes in the US involving regional airlines, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency responsible for investigating plane crashes in America, concluded that pilot fatigue was partly to blame. They are also looking at the experience and training of the crew, and whether standard procedures were being followed. It has been reported that regional airlines, in their rush to recruit extra staff, have hired pilots with fewer flying hours.

Moreover, the NTSB is concerned that regional carriers do not have adequately robust systems in place to monitor the performance of their pilots.

Angara shared that the country stands to benefit "if we pattern our aviation industry regulation to best global practices."

"With the Philippines set to be the next flight-training capital in Asia, the country would benefit from a single, centralized, and autonomous civil aviation authority to deal with matters of civil aviation. By establishing a regulatory framework for maintaining, enhancing and promoting domestic and international civil aviation in the country, we take a huge step towards aviation safety," the veteran lawmaker explained. (PNA)

DCT/rudyma

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