With most Filipinos now preferring to fly instead of ride ships, trains or buses, how safe are airlines in the Philippines?
A confidential report obtained by annalyn.net from PSA, an international business risk consultancy group, states that Philippine Airlines (PAL) remains the country’s most reliable carrier. It is so far the only one to pass stringent audits by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the IATA Operational Safety Audit for the past three years. PAL planes are serviced by the Lufthansa Technik Philippines which is a subsidiary of a global leader in aircraft and engine maintenance.
PAL’s record of 1.71 million flights since 1970 and its last fatal accident in 1994 puts it above Garuda Indonesia and slightly below Thai Airways in terms of safety in the Asia-Pacific region.
The fleet of Cebu Pacific or 5J is being maintained by SIA Engineering Co. Ltd. from Singapore, the same company which services Cathay Pacific, Delta, Air Canada and FedEx. The only thorn in Cebu Pacific’s record is the fatal crash of all 104 passengers onboard 5J Flight 387 bound for Cagayan de Oro in 1998. This was attributed to pilot error.
Zest Airways has a fleet of four Airbus 319/320 and four Modern Ark 60 (MA60) for its 20 destinations nationwide. But what is being put in question are its Made in China MA60s which are cheap and have a poor industry reputation with regards to “safety standards and design quality.” It doesn’t help that it is mostly poor countries which have ordered the MA60, among them Myanmar, Laos, Congo, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, among others. ZestAir has had two incidents of overshooting the runway in Boracay using the MA60.
Airphil Express (formerly Air Philippines) is considered to have a “mixed safety record” but is seen to have improved ever since it became a sister company of PAL and received the same maintenance regimen. The Air Philippines plane crash in Davao in 2000 which killed all 131 people onboard was considered the worst air accident in Philippine history. The crash was believed to have been caused by “counterfeit and faulty aircraft parts.”
SEAIR, which boasts of having the fastest flight time to Boracay at 35 minutes, has been hounded of late by safety concerns which have been voiced by no less than the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the European Aviation Safety Agency. It was in 2010 when the CAAP ordered the grounding of all 14 LET 410 in the country for failing to “meet international aviation standards.” Six of the LET 410s were owned by SEAIR. A Dornier 328-100 turbo prop that was sold to the company was also questioned, since it was meant for test flights only, not commercial purposes because of its “poor condition.” A minor accident involving a SEAIR aircraft in August 2009 at NAIA was blamed on “poor maintenance checks and faulty parts.”