PAL fetes best employees

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

April 3, 2019, 3:21 pm

MANILA – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) feted the best among its roster of employees as a show of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to the aviation industry.

One of the awardees is PAL pilot Capt. Royce Piczon who, a few years ago, experienced technical difficulty during a flight from Los Angeles to Manila.

"About three hours into the flight we had the first indication that something was not right. Our fuel consumption was higher than normal. As the flight progressed the fuel overburn was getting much worse. Although there were no emergency warnings yet, it was becoming evident that if the situation continued, we wouldn’t be able to reach Manila due to 'fuel starvation'," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.

Capt. Royce Piczon (Photo courtesy of PAL)

 Piczon kept his composure and checked on what was causing the problem. After checking the engine, the PAL crew discovered that the third engine was consuming more fuel than the other engines.

"But the engine was functioning normally, so we couldn’t shut it down just yet. At that point, however, we started preparing for the possibility of diverting the flight to a nearby alternate airport which happened to be Honolulu airport," he said.

The PAL crew knew that if the technical difficulty would continue, the aircraft would run out of fuel two to three hours before reaching Manila.

"At that point, we called the two pilots back from the bunk to prepare for diversion to Honolulu. With all of us discussing our next course of action, the third engine suddenly shut down automatically! Modern day jet engines are so technologically advanced that the probability of them failing is almost nil. In fact, many pilots nowadays have retired without experiencing an engine failure. Yet, here we were, facing that very rare probability," Piczon said.

The captain noted that in this case, their years of training would come in handy. "As scary as it would seem, this was exactly one of the things that we had trained for when we initially qualified for the 747 Jumbo jet," he said.

Piczon added that as an instructor pilot, he would always give this exact scenario to PAL pilots undergoing recurrent training in the simulator and expect them to handle this effectively.

"We had to prioritize the things that had to be done. As the captain, I had to 'fly the plane'. This means I have to make sure the plane is tracking the correct path and maintaining safe parameters within its 'flight envelope'," he said.

Many air disasters, he said, were the result of pilots trying to handle a technical problem and forgetting to fly the airplane. "We couldn’t allow this single fault to distract and overwhelm us," he said.

The said Los Angeles-Manila flight was diverted to Honolulu. Piczon also requested that they be allowed to dump some fuel so the aircraft would land within a safe weight.

Since the flight was diverted at a nearby airport, the plane was carrying too much fuel for that time, which makes it not suitable for safe landing, he said.

"We maximized the use of the automated systems of the Jumbo jet to allow us to focus on the tasks at hand. We soon landed safely in Honolulu airport and proceeded to the terminal. Our passengers disembarked and were met by our staff, unaware that the flight they were on just moments ago had an engine failure," he said.

That was the most challenging he had as a captain. He has been a captain for 18 years now.

Piczon's work ethic, performance and productivity, as well as consistency, didn't go unrecognized. Just recently, he was awarded "Captain of the Year" at the PAL Group's Star Awards held in Manila.

The flag carrier's outstanding employees were recognized last March 27. They underwent rigorous assessment process.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told the PNA that the Star Awards started in 2018, and would be a yearly event. For this year's Awards, the work performance assessed was last year.

"Giving recognition by way of a rewards system officially affirms the company's appreciation for a job well done. More importantly, it inspires the entire workforce to do their best and be of service to their respective stakeholders," Villaluna said.

Anyone in the company could nominate someone deserving of the award and meets the basic set of criteria.

PAL awardees (from left): PAL VP Human Capital Me-An Llamzon, PAL President Jaime Bautista, Iraphine Guilas - PAL Airport Frontliner of the Year; Ma Antonette Dejan - PAL Sales Frontliner of the Year; Angie Wee - PAL Individual Contributor of the Year; Maria Dolores Castillo - PAL Asst. Manager of the Year; Victoria Caringal - PAL Manager of the Year; Liza Pangilinan - PAL Cabin Crew of the Year; Royce Piczon - PAL Captain of the Year; Antonio Campos - PAL First Officer of the Year; Wilfredo Abelo - PAL Flight Purser of the Year; PALex President Bonifacio Sam; PALex AVP Human Resources Liza Dioquino (Photo courtesy of PAL)

Aside from Piczon, the other awardees from PAL were: Antonio Campos as First Officer of the Year; Wilfredo Abelo as Flight Purser of the Year; Liza Pangilinan as Cabin Crew of the Year; Victoria Caringal as Manager of the Year; Maria Dolores Castillo as Assistant Manager of the Year; Angie Wee as Individual Contributor of the Year; Ma Antonette Dejan as Sales Front Liner of the Year; and Iraphine Guilas as Airport Front Liner of the Year.

From PAL Express, the Star Awardees were: Ramil San Miguel as Captain of the Year; Antoinette Noore Aquino as First Officer of the Year; Anna Nicolette Kho as Cabin Crew of the Year; Joselito Las as Manager of the Year; Rommel Bonzon as Assistant Manager of the Year; and Jessica Melencio as Individual Contributor of the Year.

PAL Express winners (from left): Joselito Las - PALEX Manager of the Year; Jessica Melencio - PALEX Individual Contributor of the Year; Anna Nicolette Kho - PALEX Cabin Crew of the Year; PALEX President Bonifacio Sam; Antoinette Noore Aquino - PALEX First Officer of the Year, Ramil San Miguel - PALEX Captain of the Year; and Rommel Bonzon - PALEX Assistant Manager of the Year (Photo courtesy of PAL)

They all received a plaque of appreciation.

At the awarding ceremony, PAL chief executive officer, Jaime Bautista, said the airline sees them as models, a strong team of professionals.

PAL Express president, Bonifacio Sam, also thanked the awardees, and wished them to continue to inspire others and be the best version of themselves. (PNA)