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Oud 18-10-2009, 14:00   #1
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Crash Manilla

MANILA, Philippines -- The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said engine trouble was the reason for the crash of a small cargo plane in Las Piñas City, on Saturday, which killed four passengers.

CAAP director-general Ruben Ciron cited the last communication between the Manila air control tower and two pilots, which reported engine failure and advised the control tower of their intention to go back to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

All radio contact with the plane was lost at around 11:56 a.m. It was believed to have crashed between noon and 12:15 p.m. on an abandoned warehouse in Villa Fidela subdivision, Barangay (village) Aldana, Las Piñas.

Ciron said the pilot did not request ground assistance although the Runway 6 was opened for the expected emergency landing.

“The plane was observed by the tower approaching the airport already and it was continuously descending at very low level until they (air traffic controllers) saw billows of smoke at the vicinity of the crash site,” Ciron told reporters.

He added that the two-propeller plane, a DC-3 aircraft owned by Victoria Asia Air Services Inc. with tail number RPC 550, had a valid “certificate of air-worthiness,” having passed routine inspections by the CAAP.

“It would not be allowed to fly if it was not air-worthy,” he said, adding that it would be up to the CAAP’s Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AIIB) to come out with a report on the nature and cause of the crash.

MIAA assistant general general manager Angel Atutubo identified the fatalities as the pilot, Capt. Benjamin Rivera; his co-pilot Benjamin Baculpo; flight mechanic Richard Gidaya; and Crew member Jaguar Juane, a relative of Victoria owner Jerson Juane.

According to CAAP deputy director Ed Kapunan, the plane hires out it services in transporting goods throughout the country. He said the flight manifest did not contain any detail on whether the plane was carrying any cargo.

Kapunan said the plane, manufactured by Douglas Co., was used by the United States air forces during World War II.

“It’s really a World War II vintage aircraft but it’s one of the best designed aircraft by the Americans. So it’s really an old plane,” he said.

The Manila International Airport Authority, which runs NAIA, said the plane was on a flight bound to Palawan when it crashed.

The MIAA’s emergency and rescue services sped to the crash site to put out the fire and rescue casualties.

The airport police are investigating claims by the plane owner, Juane, that the flight was unauthorized.

AIIB board member Amado Soliman, chair of the Air Safety Foundation of the Philippines, recalled that the same plane developed problems in its hydraulic system when it landed at NAIA from Bacolod City about a month ago.

“The aircraft lost its brakes and had to be towed from the runway,” he recalled, adding that it has not wrapped up its investigation of the incident.

He also said his initial take on the cause of the crash, based on his observations of the debris at the crash site rite, was engine trouble.

“The mere fact that he was trying to come back and cannot gain altitude and ended up crashing is indicative of that (engine failure]. We have to find out and establish why,” he explained.

Soliman also said the inquiry would focus on why there appeared to be six empty drums of aviation fuel on board the plane.

“Carrying fuel inside the plane for your return flight is against regulations,” he said, adding that the fire that burned more than a dozen houses in Villa Fidela could have originated from the fuel.
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