MANILA, Philippines – Amid the long-standing safety oversight issue hanging over the Philippine aviation industry, President Aquino has named a new chief at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap).
President Aquino signed the appointment papers of retired Lt Gen William K. Hotchkiss III as director-general of the Caap, effectively replacing Ramon Gutierrez whose term expires June 30.
Hotchkiss’s appointment–which took effect on June 13 and announced by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on June 19–will cover the unexpired term of Gutierrez which is until June 30, 2012.
Hotchkiss, 69, served as commanding general of the Philippine Air Force from 1996 to 1999. He also served during the administration of President Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas previously expressed dissatisfaction on Gutierrez over the inability of the CAAP to get out of the Category 2 status, which its US counterpart, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) imposed in 2008.
In 2011, the technical arm of the FAA audited the CAAP to check if the Philippine aviation body has been able to meet globally accepted aviation safety standards. Its audit results showed CAAP did not.
Roxas had said he would discuss the lingering issue with President Aquino, stressing that the problem was already there when he took on the transportation portfolio in July 2011.
In March 2011, President Aquino had also ordered CAAP to get the Philippines out of Category 2 status, which had prevented local airlines from mounting new or additional flights between the Philippines and US destinations.
Previously, the appointment of former military generals in a civil aviation body has been criticized as a contributor to the inability of the CAAP to meet commercial safety standards. – Rappler.com