In the March 26, 2013 issue of Inquirer, there was news about the President encouraging the civil aviation authorities to work so as to get our airlines out of the watch lists of the United States and Europe. In 2009 the International Civil Aviation Organization found that our aviation standards did not meet international requirements and in 2010 the European Union banned all Philippine aircraft from its airports for serious and persistent noncompliance of our carriers with aircraft checks.
Anyone who has seen the documentary films produced by National Geographic about air crashes will come to the conclusion that an airplane is such a delicate machine that, even if the tiniest part of it breaks, let’s say a bolt in the engine, the whole plane can come down crashing. In one of its episodes it reported that a plane crashed because one of the pitot tubes that measure the air speed was occluded and so it did not indicate to the pilot the correct speed. And that’s a very little thing.
We can think that to keep a plane flying safely requires a culture of excellence of all the people involved in flying and maintaining the plane. All those concerned must pay attention to the smallest things and do their job very well. Anything less will not do.
I would also like to think that the airline industry in our country can be a reflection of our culture in general. We are a people who tend to be satisfied with things that don’t work well or that we tend to make do with imperfections in systems or structures. Lamps might flicker, traffic lights not turn on, faucets busted, roofs leak, doors jammed, air conditioners noisy, walls dirty, queues not moving, trains or buses delayed, but the Filipino might just shrug his shoulder, smile and life goes on.
There is something laudable about the resilience of the Filipino and his or her capacity for pain and suffering. But I think it is defect of character if one does not pay attention to little things or do things well or fix them. We ought to foster a culture of excellence. I think that if we acquire this culture it’s not only our planes that will soar to all the skies, it’s the Filipino himself who will.