CAAP to NegOr officials: Talk to lot owners over tree cutting for aircraft safety

By Jennifer Catan-Tilos

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) —  Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has appealed to Negros Oriental officials to talk to owners of the lot where trees have posed an obstruction in the final approach of runway at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport.

With the downgrading of aircraft operations on April 29, the CAAP technical team from Manila has inspected again the airport on Friday and found that tall trees still cover the approach of the runway 09 of the airport’s threshold.

In a meeting with Negros Oriental Tourism Council (NOTC) at the Governor’s Office, Engr. Francisco Alconera of CAAP explained that those trees should be cut down because it is clear that these obstruct the path angle of the final approach and sometimes hit aircraft’s landing gears, posing a  hazards to incoming flights.

Alconera said the aviation agency has requested the private lot owner, Alex Amor, since last year to cut the trees but only allowed it to be trimmed as of last October.

However, in a separate occasion, Amor explained that “the two coconut and one talisay trees were already cut down inside the compound, but the remaining santol tree beside the house has been trimmed only to protect us from the heat of the sun and dust.”

“We, too, have a big concern on the safety of the flying public, so with our own protection too,” expressed Amor, an environmental advocate.

The trimming of the santol was done just last year, but after the incident when an Airbus of Cebu Pacific hit some twig, “we trimmed some branches of the santol for another one foot,” Amor said.

However, the CAAP official clarified that trimming is not enough since trees grow, and for urgent need it should be cut equally on a rooftop level for the pilots to see the threshold (white lines) of the runway when approaching to land.

“The rooftop level trimming should also be maintained regularly,” Alconera added.

Accordingly, CAAP also requested the provincial government to negotiate with Amor to cut the trees to rooftop level so that the downgrading will be lifted.

Downgraded airport is restricted to propeller-type commercial aircraft with only 70 to 80 seats sans the Airbus with 160 to 180 seats.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Richard Enojo said the present downgrading of the airport will definitely affect the tourism industry in the province.

The CAAP official said they have been presenting the issue to the local government unit of Sibulan where the airport is located.

“I understand after a lot of negotiations have been done and yet there is no positive results with this longstanding problem, we believe that resorting to a judicial remedy is the best solution left,” explained Enojo.

Enojo said the provincial government would ask higher officials of CAAP to lead the filing of case in court to resolve permanently the present problem confronting the province.

“Being an airport administrator and within its jurisdiction, CAAP has the right to file the case to the lot owners because we are not hopeful that another round of negotiations will bring in positive results,” he said.

Meantime, Alconera said CAAP is forced to displace the threshold and move it somewhere else for the big aircrafts to land since the runway is left only with 1.4 meters, which is not ideal. (rmn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was originally published at PIA website on May 18, 2016)

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