DOTr pushes for independent aviation accident board

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DOTr pushes for independent aviation accident board
Transport undersecretary for aviation and airports Roberto Lim. Photo courtesy of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is recommending the creation of an independent body that will handle aircraft accidents,
  • This is while the bill creating a Philippine Transportation Safety Board remains pending in Congress
  • DOTr has proposed moving the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to another office in a draft executive order submitted to the President
  • Various bills to create a PTSB have been filed in both the Senate and Lower House

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is recommending the creation of an independent body to handle aircraft accidents, while the bill creating a Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) remains pending in Congress, Transport undersecretary for aviation and airports Roberto Lim said.

In an interview during the recent Philippine Aviation Summit, Lim disclosed the DOTr has submitted to the Office of the President a draft executive order (EO) suggesting the temporary transfer of the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) from its current location within the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Lim said this is “so that it is independent when it makes an aircraft investigation.” He said the Aviation Sector of the DOTr or the Office of Transportation Security can take on the function of the AAIIB.

During the same event, Lim emphasized this recommendation is meant to bridge the gap until legislation is enacted. The goal is to establish an independent accident investigation board, particularly for the aviation sector, to help the Philippines meet the airspace safety requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, of which the country is a member.

In June last year, Congress passed a bill creating the PTSB, which was subsequently vetoed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who argued the proposed body would duplicate the functions of other relevant government agencies.

READ: Marcos vetoes bill creating transport safety board

Since then, various bills to create a PTSB have been filed in both the Senate and the Lower House. Lim expressed the DOTr’s support for these bills.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1121, or the proposed PTSB Act, authored by Senator Grace Poe, is among the proposed legislations aiming to establish an agency responsible for investigating transportation-related accidents and incidents.

Poe highlighted the necessity for a single dedicated agency that will not only investigate accidents but also look into predicting, reducing, and averting them. She observed the country’s transport sector is currently regulated “by a scattered hodgepodge of regulators, bureaus, and agencies,” and transport safety is part of their respective mandates, but it is neither their primary focus nor their core specialization.

In the Lower House, several bills have also been filed, including House Bills (HB) 1801, 7638, and 7836.

SB 1121 is pending second reading with the Committee on Public Services, while the three HBs are pending with the Committee on Government Reorganization.

READ: Joint foreign chambers, other groups press for ok of transport safety board bill

Earlier this year, the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, Safe Travel Alliance, and International Air Transport Association called on Congress to reconsider and approve the bill establishing the PTSB. The coalition emphasized that many agencies tasked with investigating transportation accidents are simultaneously responsible for regulating or operating the sector, creating an inherent conflict of interest in their investigative duties.