PAL gets new facility for cabin fire training

MANILA, Philippines – Passengers of Lucio Tan-led Philippine Airlines (PAL) can rest a little easier with the knowledge that the airline has bolstered its training against possible cabin fires on its aircraft.

The flag carrier announced on Friday, November 3, that it recently acquired a state-of-the-art Cabin Fire and Smoke Trainer (CFST) with equipment that simulate in-flight fire scenarios.

PAL said the $300,000 investment in the one-storey structure will enhance the skills and knowledge of PAL cabin crew and pilots in dealing with potential emergency situations.

"Philippine Airlines considers safety as a cornerstone of its operations and is committed in providing all appropriate resources to support the management of safety," PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said in a statement.

"The threat of an in-flight fire is very rare because of the onboard safety systems in our aircraft. However, when it does occur, the best defense is for our flight and cabin crew to have a comprehensive knowledge of effective firefighting techniques," he added.

The facility features controlled fires that are fully automatic and extinguished using water-based compressed air, instead of dry chemicals.

The CFST, which is housed at PAL's complex in Pasay City, also features a training area that mimics the layout of an actual aircraft cabin, with an aisle, galley, seats, overhead stowage bins, and a lavatory where fire scenarios will be simulated.

Part of 5-star push

PAL said the investment is part of its efforts to earn 5-star status as a globally competitive full-service airline. Aside from the new facility, PAL also maintains an Airbus A320 simulator and a fully-equipped training center.

A major initiative in the 5-star push is to forge a strategic partnership with another airline in a deal that Bautista said could see the partner take up as much as 40% of PAL.

Bautista had earlier said that the deal could be announced by this year, but later said 2018 might be more likely amid a challenging environment for airlines in the country as well as disagreements on valuation. –