CAAP – under Pressure!

CAAP under pressure

About a week ago we wrote about the grounding of SKYJET and SEAIR-I. We rated the action as: “Everything looks like an emergency operation of the CAAP top management”. See here.

Since then we followed the story without commenting. But now the situation became worse.

1. An European assessment team was in the Philippines conducting an audit from April 16 to 24. The EASA team has been here to observe the safety guidelines and procedures in place at a number of local carriers. The result was negative and the Philippines’ aviation is still listed in the EASA ban-list.

2. CAAP, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines grounded two airlines on May18. SkyJet Airlines and South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) were forced to suspend operations.

3. The Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Friday, May 22, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the government’s suspension of Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet Airlines) operations over various safety issues.

And now?


The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reiterated the safety of passengers is paramount to the government, after a lower court stopped the agency from suspending the operations of Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet) over safety issues.

A statement released by the CAAP said the safety of passengers as well as airports is a major concern of the regulator.
“For CAAP, the safety of passengers and our airports and airspace is paramount. The rules are simple,” the agency stated.

Why didn’t CAAP act much earlier? Why does CAAP always need menaces from abroad?

The regulator issued the statement after Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Branch 119 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day Temporary Restraining Order preventing the CAAP from implementing an order signed by CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III last May 15 indefinitely suspending the operations of Skyjet.

“It is very clear that the May 15 suspension order was irregular, not valid and issued without due process of law. The suspension was premature and done without investigation and without inspection of the airplane of the plaintiff; thus, violative of the constitutional and economic rights of and causing damage to the plaintiff,” Guitierrez said in the order.Magnum Air president Dino Reyes Chua stated in the complaint that the suspension order signed by Hotchkiss claimed there was an intensive investigation done, but CAAP could not even produce an investigation report.

What has a judge of a regional trial court to decide when it comes to flight safety? Is he really a flight safety specialist? CAAP is a legal entity. This why a Regional Trial Court cannot over rule a decision of CAAP. The only judicial body havin this competence is the Court of Appeals!

Skyjet is seeking P20 million in damages as the suspension has affected 2,600 passengers.

Last May 18, Hotchkiss announced the suspension of the Airline Operator Certificate (AOC) of Skyjet and South East Asian Airlines International Inc. (Seair-I) due to safety concerns raised by aviation experts from the European Union (EU) and violations of the rules and standards prescribed under the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR).

This could become dangerous for the CAAP Director General and the other members of the managment that issued this suspension. If Skyjet has the better attorneys, then CAAP management will have to look for money.

The report submitted by the EU Assessment Team revealed that Skyjet yielded eight observations covering different areas from flight data monitoring and quality assurance to airworthiness and maintenance control.

In Europe an airline would have been grounded after the first observation. Why do they need 8 observations in the Philippines.

On the other hand, Seair-I yielded 15 safety observations covering different areas from management structure SMS, and accident preventions and flight safety program to flight data management.

Where remains CAAP’s “Oversight Function”?  In the USA and in Europe anytime a “Ramp Inspection” can be conducted without previously beeing announced. Such an inspection lasts about 45 minutes. Why doesn’t CAAP do their work? Orders from higher up? Such inspections wouldn’t delay the flights in Manila’s NAIA, because delays in the afternoon are absolutely common.

Hotchkiss pointed out that the results of assessment visit made by EU from April 16 to 24, as well as the investigation made by CAAP showed that the safety concerns need to be properly given immediate corrective actions.

Reading this statement of DG Hotchkiss, we have to admit that the airlines complain rightfully. If problems could have been solved earlier by  Corrective Action Plans, then CAAP had slept during months and years. Maybe CAAP does not distinguish between Violation and Observation. A Violation means immediate grounding. An Observation means establishing a time-bound Corrective Action Plan with succeeding checks.

It would be recalled that aviation experts from the European Commission, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and EU member states visited the country from April 16 to 24 to examine the safety oversight system of Philippine air carriers still on the list of banned carriers allowed to fly to Europe.

A friend and CEO of an airline wrote: Philippines, kiss “good bye” your lifting of the EU Blacklist! As long as CAAP is Regulator, Licensor and Operator nothing will change. At the time of DG Cusi, CAAP wanted to adopt EASA Standards. He also wanted to bring EASA specialists to the Philippines to train CAAP specialists to introduce and apply the same international standards. Philippines’ pride didn’t allow such a good idea.

It seems that next month the friends from the US FAA will also come and have look under the skirts of CAAP. It might be a bit smelly there  😉

Just for the Records

Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet Airlines) operates birds with a looooong history. Here is the 31 years history of SKYJET’s BA146-100 RP-C8538. Read bottom up:

Photo courtesy of
RP-C8538 BAe 146-100 E1015 ALF205 SKYJET AIRLINES
PK-VTA dd 09/04/09 Manunggal Air Service
RP-C dd 01/29/08 Asian Spirit
N146AP rg 1/11/08 Aerospace Trust Management, canx 1/29/08 to Philippines
G-MABR dd 1/00 Union Jack c/s, stored 3/31/07 EGTE British Airways Connect
G-DEBN dd 12/98 Debonair
EC-GEP rrg 12/95 PauknAir
EC-971 dd 9/95 PauknAir
N568BA rg 5/92, rg 5/4/92 Connecticut National Bank
XA-RST leased 12/91 AVIACSA
N461AP dd 12/6/84 Aspen Airways
G-5-01 ff 4/16/84 British Aerospace
ff = first flight / dd = delivery date

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