Probes on Xiamen plane incident ongoing: CAAP

MANILA Two separate probes on the recent incident involving a Xiamen passenger airplane are still being conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) and the flight safety investigation committee (FSIC) of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), an official said Monday.

Speaking before the Senate committee on public services hearing, CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco assured the committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe that CAAP will publish the report as soon as the probes are concluded.

Sydiongco said the AIIBB investigation is identifying the cause of the incident to prevent future mishaps from occurring, while the FSIC probe is focused on determining whether any Philippine civil aviation regulation was violated and should corresponding penalties be imposed.

"At present, both investigations are underway to determine what caused the accident. Both committees are at work gathering information through interview with eyewitnesses, examination of records, and validation of data from all available sources," he said.

During the hearing, Sydiongco said the black box and the flight data recorder of Xiamen Air flight MF8667 are currently in the custody of the CAAP.

"We are now comparing the cockpit voice recorder with the flight data," he said.

On August 16, the Xiamen plane skidded off a runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, resulting in runway closure and cancellation of numerous domestic and international flights, stranding hundreds of passengers.

While awaiting the report, Poe underscored the need for concerned agencies to review their contingency plans in case a similar incident happens in the future.

The lawmaker pointed out the concerns of passengers affected, some of whom were even taken advantage of.

"We heard the testimony of affected passengers...We need to review our contingency plans for such situations," she said, adding that the crisis management team in the airport should also hold mandatory meetings to establish cooperation between Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and airline companies.

During the hearing, MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal said the fines Xiamen Airlines would have to pay ballooned to at least PHP72 million from the initial estimate of PHP33 million.

Monreal said officials from the airline company, as well as its chairman, will visit the country on September 13 to 14 to settle the initial penalty.

"Mayroon pang pag-uusap pagdating noong (There are still some things to discuss upon the arrival of the) chairman this week. Pag-uusapan (We will discuss the additional penalty to be settled) naming final ang karagdagang kailangang bayaran," he added.

Xiamen Airlines, meanwhile, has committed to pay the penalty, assuring the committee of its full cooperation in all investigation being conducted in relation to the runway mishap.

"The Xiamen Airlines has repeatedly assured that, not just the committee, but the CAAP that they will fully cooperate with the investigation so I would expect that the pilot would also be present, physically or electronically via video conference," Manolito Manalo, a representative from Xiamen Airlines, added.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who was present at the inquiry, refused to blame any officials working on the ground.

"Una po (First), ang Xiamen incident ay na-cause ng Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen incident was caused by Xiamen Airlines), kung tatanunging mayroon ba akong nasabing tao dahil hindi naasikaso yung estado ng problema, wala po (If I'm asked if I have mentioned a person who did not look into the status of the problem, I have not)," Tugade said.

He said the MIAA, CAAP, and the Civil Aeronautics Board were able to handle the situation despite the existing conditions when the incident happened.

Tugade also clarified that he attended to the matter and was even present at the office of Monreal at that time. "Nandoon po ako nung unang araw, hindi lang po ako nagpakita (I was there when the incident happened. It was not only visible to the public)." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency