CAAP inspector suspended for certifying safety of plane in Robredo crash | Inquirer News
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CAAP inspector suspended for certifying safety of plane in Robredo crash

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 08:02 PM November 14, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has suspended the airworthiness inspector who cleared the plane that flew Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to his death last August.

CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III ordered a 90-day preventive suspension of Fernando Abalos while he and other CAAP personnel undergo an investigation, CAAP deputy director general John Andrews told reporters.

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In the suspension order, Andrews said Abalos’ actions “could constitute gross dishonesty and grave misconduct that may warrant removal from government service.” Andrews said the preventive suspension order was “not a penalty but is a cautionary measure so that the government official involved may not be able to influence witnesses or to tamper with the records.”

The special committee that investigated the Robredo plane crash faulted Abalos for allegedly approving the test flight permit for the renewal of the airworthiness certificate for the plane on Jan. 2, 2012.

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However, the committee found out that there was no record in the aircraft logbook of the test flight. Moreover, the Mactan airport log also did not show any flight plan for the plane filed on that day.

The committee contented that the pilot, AviaTour Inc. owner Capt. Jesus Bahinting, “connived” with Abalos to expedite the processing and approval of the certificate of airworthiness.

Abalos allegedly endorsed the application for airworthiness certificate renewal, and an entry in the CAAP database showed the documents for such a renewal had been reviewed by Abalos. The certificate was released to AviaTour on Feb. 7 but this was predated to Jan. 7, the committee said.

In a television interview, Andrews said the CAAP will be conducting its own investigation for the possible filing of administrative and criminal cases against those who may be answerable for the crash. The CAAP will be focusing on the airworthiness department, which is under the agency’s flight standard and inspectorate service.

“During the investigation we are going to discover how far the graft and corruption in that department has reached and we will charge the people concerned. As far as we are concerned it is not only Abalos that would have been guilty of this because there are several steps to be taken before an aircraft is declared air-worthy,” Andrews said.

He added that Abalos and all those involved in the alleged falsification of the certification will be accorded due process by the CAAP investigation body, which would be led by assistant director general Abdiel Fajardo.

The body was given by Hotchkiss two weeks to submit its report.

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The CAAP official lamented that the agency’s previous leaders had apparently “left aside” the strengthening of the regulation of air taxi operators and flying schools as the CAAP focused more time and effort on improving the country’s civil aviation status as rated by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Andrews, who was appointed to the CAAP four months ago, said the “cleanup” at CAAP continues. He said unnecessary consultants and contractuals have been weeded out and the departments that lacked personnel will be augmented.

He disclosed that the airworthiness department had only two inspectors to oversee about 60 flying schools nationwide.

“That is why we are going to undertake a complete audit of all the flying schools, including air taxi operators and maintenance organizations, “Andrews said.

“A lot of things would not have happened if things were done properly. Unless we can stop the collusion between the regulatory body and the operators, the same thing is going to happen again,” he added.

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TAGS: Civil Aviation, News, robredo, Safety
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