ATO History

Legislative Act No. 3909 passed by the Philippine Legislature on November 20, 1931 created the Office Technical Assistant of Aviation Matters under the Department of Commerce and Communications. The Office handled aviation matters, particularly the enforcement of rules and regulations governing commercial aviation as well as private flying.

LA No. 3909 was amended by Act 3996 to include licensing of airmen and aircraft, inspection of aircraft concerning air traffic rules, schedules and rates and enforcement of Aviation Laws.

In 1933, the Office of Technical Assistant of Aviation Matters became the Aeronautics Division under the Department of Commerce and Communications, the functions of which were embodied in Administrative order no. 309, a joint bulletin issued by the Department of Public Works and Communications and the Department of Finance.

In October 1934, Act 4033 was passed requiring a franchise from the Philippine Government to operate an air service; and to regulate foreign aircraft operations.

On November 12, 1936, the Philippine Legislature passed Commonwealth Act No. 168, better known as the Civil Aviation Law of the Philippine in March 1945, the bureau was reorganized and placed under the Department of National Defense. Among its functions was to promulgate Civil Aviation Regulations.

On October 1947, Executive Order no. 94, which reorganized the government, transferred the Bureau of Aeronautics to the newly created Department of Commerce and Industry and renamed it as Civil Aeronautics Administrative (CAA).

On June 5, 1948, Republic Act no. 224 created the national Airports Corporation which was charged with the management and operation of all national airports.

On June 20, 1952, Republic Act No. 776, otherwise known as the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines reorganized the CAA and another aviation agency called the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). It defined the powers duties of both agencies including its funding, personnel and the regulations of Civil Aviation.

On October 19, 1956, Executive Order No. 309 placed the CAA under the administrative supervision and control of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications.

On January 20, 1975, Letter of instruction No. 244 transferred to the Department of Public Highways the responsibilities relative to airport plans, design, construction, improvement and maintenance as well as site acquisition. The responsibilities related to location, planning, design and funding were later returned to the CAA.

On July 23, 1979, through Executive Order No. 546, the CAA was renamed as Bureau of Air Transportation (BAT) and placed under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

On April 14, 1987, Executive Order No. 125 renamed the Bureau of Transportation to Air Transportation Office headed by the Assistant Secretary for Air Transportation.

Creation of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was created in 2008 by virtue of Republic Act No. 9497 as enacted into law last March 23, 2008. Under Chapter 1, Section 2 of said Republic Act, (Declaration of Policy), it is declared the policy of the State “to provide safe and efficient air transport and regulatory services in the Philippines by providing for the creation of a civil aviation authority with jurisdiction over the restructuring of the civil aviation system, the promotion, development and regulation of the technical, operational, safety, and aviation security functions under the civil aviation authority”.

The creation of CAAP in 2008 is the main component of an intensive civil aviation reform program launched by the government. According to Chapter 1, Sec. 4 (Creation of the Authority), CAAP is “an independent regulatory body with quasi-judicial and quasi legislative powers and possessing corporate attributes attached to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) for the purpose of policy coordination”. The same provision also abolished the existing Air Transportation Office created under the provisions of Republic Act No. 776, as amended

To ensure availability of technically qualified and currently qualified personnel, the Act empowers CAAP to update its standards, system and procedures prescribed for civil aviation inspectorate, licensing, and oversight functions to comply with ICAO and other international aviation standards. It is allowed flexibility to incorporate new practices and procedures as they become available without the procedures required for promulgation of legally binding regulations (part 1 General Policies, Procedures and Definitions, PCAR)

Pursuant to Chapter II, Sec. 15, CAAP shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. All moneys earned by the Authority from the collection / levy of any and all such fees, charges, dues, assessments and fines it is empowered to collect / levy under this Act shall be used solely to fund the operations of the Authority.

Its corporate powers are exercised by a governing Board of Directions composed of eight (8) members, namely: the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication as Chairman, the CAAP Director-General, Labor and Employment as Members, and later the Secretary of Tourism pursuant to R.A. 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.