February 2010


AOPA South East Asia Regional Summit. February 12th 2010, Clark Airbase n Philippines. 

By Eduardo Loigorri, representing Thailand. 

As part of the Annual Philippines Balloon Fiesta, AOPA holds a South East Asia regional summit each year to help promote the interests of aviation enthusiasts across the ASEAN region.

This year’s event, hosted by Captain Geronimo A. Amurao, (President AOPA Philippines) was themed on updating the member countries regarding the current environment for General Aviation (GA), barriers to operation, proposals for better harmonisation and current issues concerning operators and pilots. 

The keynote speech was given by a representative of Mr Ruben F. Ciron, PhD.Director General of Philippines Civil Aviation Authority.  

Each member country was invited to give a 10 minuet summary of current GA activity in their respective countries. 

Europe: By special invitation, representatives were present from Switzerland (Adrian Held), UK (Peter Bish), and Sweden (Charlotte Algotsson and Mikael Potipa) 

The main topic of concern in Europe voiced by all three countries was the current EASA regulatory interference in aircraft maintenance, and their attempt to move regulatory control of special interest groups within GA such as gliders and ballooning from national control to European wide control.

This has caused much disruption, and added costs, whilst at the same time loosing many of the commonsense concessions gained by these groups over many years of operation.

The UK representative Peter Bish a former UK Air traffic controller, and PPL pilot quoted the number of UK registered private aircraft (including balloons and gliders, ultralights) at well over 4,000 aircraft! 

Philippines: Joy Roa, gave an overview of the situation in the Philippines. His main concern was the downgrading of the Philippines CAA from FAA category 1 to category 2, and recent poor examples of training in the commercial sector.  In contrast the private sector is thriving in the Philippines, which I saw for myself. (This lovely Beech 18 was still in use ferrying fresh Groper fish from Busuanga to Manila) 

Thailand: I explained that the GA climate in Thailand was to a large extent governed by the attitude of the DCA Director General towards GA. Some DG’s had little perceived value in GA despite other examples worldwide.  Happily, the current DG K. Vutichai is a keen supporter of GA.

I gave an overview of the recent changes K. Vutichai has implemented to encourage GA in Thailand, explaining that many of the previous bureaucratic obstacles have been relaxed, and that hopefully Thailand is on the way to emulating the Philippines.  

Malaysia: The Malaysian representative said that there had been a recent change in the regulations regarding foreigners training in Malaysia making it much harder to obtain the necessary paperwork unless you are resident there.  This was seen as a backward step.  In contrast, my own experience of flying in Malaysia has been very positive. Obtaining overflight and landing permits for a Thai registered aircraft has been very straight forward, only necessitating the emailing of the aircraft and pilot’s documents, at no charge for private flights. 

Indonesia: Although commercial operations by smaller operators is thriving in Indonesia, sadly the same cannot be said of GA, which has had many of its freedoms removed, especially regarding cross country flights and the ability to land at certain airports. The treatment of foreign registered aircraft was also discussed with numerous examples of excessive landing, parking and “security” charges given.

The consensus of the meeting was that overregulation of GA must be resisted and the positive benefits of GA had to be promoted as the recent US based AOPA “GA Serves America” campaign has been striving to achieve.

The standard of training, especially at commercial levels was to be encouraged to improve. 

A commorative certificate celebrating Philippine aviation was generously presented to all those who spoke, including myself by Philippines AOPA Permanent secretary Chris Abanes.

World Assembly Dates Set

The 2010 IAOPA World Assembly will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel 6-11 June 2010. A website providing details of the assembly will be established in the near future by the host organization, AOPA-Israel.