CAAP to begin second investigation into Robredo plane crash

Following President Benigno Aquino’s announcement on the causes of the August 13 plane crash that killed former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General William Hotchkiss announced on Tuesday that a second probe will be conducted to look into the culpabilities of persons involved. "Whatever is turned up by the investigating body, [the guilty parties] will definitely also feel the brunt of the full implementation of Philippine Civil Air Regulations," he added. Aquino announced in a Tuesday press conference that the crash was due in part to pilot error, as well as Aviatour’s collusion with some CAAP employees to achieve a favorable safety rating. Captain Jessup Bahinting, owner of Aviatour, the flight school and air taxi service that operated the ill-fated Piper Seneca plane, died in the crash with Robredo, along with flight student Kshitiz Chand. Meanwhile, Aircraft Accident Inquiry and Investigation Board (AAIIB) head Capt. Amado Soliman also revealed that it is possible that some Aviatour officials and CAAP employees colluded to expedite the passage of the flying school’s airworthiness documents. In addition to the fast-tracked process that led to the awarding of the flight safety certificate, Aquino also revealed that there was a lack of checks and balances within Aviatour. “Napatunayan sa imbestigasyon na mismong mga mekaniko ng Aviatour ang nagkukumpuni ng Piper Seneca, gayong hindi naman sila awtorisado ng manufacturer na magsagawa ng maintenance sa nasabing eroplano,” Aquino said. He added that Aviatour’s employees’ overlapping duties caused oversights that may have contributed to the crash. “Dahil sa patung-patong at pare-parehong tungkulin ng kanilang mga opisyal, nagkakaroon ng conflict of interest, kaya hindi nabibigyan ng tamang atensyon ang ligtas na kondisyon ng eroplano,” Aquino said. Re-auditing Meanwhile former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary and current Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas assured the public that commercial air travel remains safe, as bigger airlines are subjected to more rigid standards. “Ang mga patakaran, ang mga mekanismo, proseso na isinasagawa sa commercial airlines—sa mga malalaki kung saan ‘yung mga nakararami na mga pasaherong sumasakay—na isinasagawa ng CAAP ay mas mahigpit kaysa sa nakita natin dito sa mga maliliit sa flying school, at saka sa charter—small charter operations,” Roxas said. CAAP’s AAIIB also announced that in light of the investigation’s results, several air taxi operators and pilot schools will be re-checked. “We will be re-auditing about 39 pilot schools and 24 maintenance organizations. We will also be reviewing 21 air taxi operators,” Capt. Beda Badiola, Vice Chair of the AAIIB said.

“Insofar as the foreign maintenance organizations are concerned, we have 69 of these approved maintenance organizations—which are either servicing purely foreign operators [or] some local operators—and we also have 48 approved local air maintenance organizations,” Badiola added. — DVM, GMA News

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