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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Human error considered in the Parañaque plane crash accident

This is just a sequel to the last Parañaque City Plane Crash video. Some wanted to know the follow-up details, so I'm posting this in response.

According to a news 5 days ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is considering the possibility that "human factor," a politically correct term for pilot error, played a key role in the fatal crash of  Beechcraft "Queen Air" at the Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City. on December 10, where 14 persons were reportedly killed and scores were seriously wounded and hospitalized.

Capt. Amado Soliman, officer-in-charge of the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB), said his office will study the video footage of the accident taken by an amateur showing the airplane slowly turning right, then going into a spiral that continued until the plane hit the ground, followed by a column of smoke and fire.

He said the transcript of the conversation between the pilot and the air controllers would be reviewed for more tell-tale signs of the troubles that beset the ill-fated airplane, RP-C824.

The last conversation released to the media shows that the pilot declared an emergency and asked for a "re-landing." He was given the go signal to land, after which there was nothing heard from the pilot.

According to a retired pilot, who used to fly a twin-engine "Aero Commander," the malfunction of an engine would require the skillful maneuver of the airplane, especially when turning back toward the runway, so as not to aggravate an already bad situation.

"If one of the engines has quit, turning the plane around would require the use of the pedals only, which activates the tail aileron (rudder) and not the yoke (wheel). The yoke activates the wing aileron, and thus magnify the turn that would lead into a spiral," said the pilot, who requested not to be identified due to the ongoing investigation.

Airplanes turn around with a combination of tail and wing ailerons so that aside from banking toward the direction of the turn, the tail "follows" to avoid a yawing motion of the entire plane and give passengers the feeling of a smooth ride.

The veteran pilot added that if one of the two engines quit, the turn should be made toward the "good" engine and not towards the "dead" engine, again so as not to aggravate the turn that would lead into a spiral that would be out of control.

These are the factors that Capt. Soliman and his team would look into to determine the actual cause of the crash.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Beechcraft Queen Air sent a representative to the CAAP to say that he is not in hiding.

Lawyer Jeffrey John Zarate, legal counsel for captain Fidel Hembrador, the alleged owner of the light plane, walked into the CAAP office on Thursday to say that his client, a former commercial pilot, was still in the country and ready to cooperate with the investigation by the AAIIB.

CAAP director general Ramon Gutierrez said a subpoena was immediately served to Zarate for his client, who had been the object of a week-long search by the fact-finding board convened by Transportation Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II to determine the liability of the owner of the light plane, and prevent the recurrence of similar accidents in the future.

In a related development, CAAP and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) turned over P750,000 to Parañaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe to help the accident victims and their kin, as well as purchase construction materials to jumpstart the rebuilding of the 2,000-square-meter section of the slum area that had been gutted by a fire due to the plane crash.

Plane in Parañaque crash was unauthorized

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended the license of Aviation Technology innovators or ATI, the operator of the plane that crashed in Parañaque on Dec. 10.

CAAP said ATI violated rules on flight operations, including flying the Beechcraft plane even without a written lease agreement with the owners of the plane.

CAAP also cited the absence of the name of Captain Timeteo Albo in the list of authorized pilots of ATI.

"I am putting them under preventive suspension pending the conduct of the investigation. Kung may preventive suspension, they cannot operate [If there is preventive suspension, they cannot operate]," said Retired General Ramon Gutierrez, director-general of CAAP.

An investigator of CAAP told ABS-CBN News that the violations of ATI are nothing new in the industry.

He said there are many so-called "colorum" (unauthorized) planes in Philippines' skies.

"Marami na. 'Yung maliliit na operators inaantay nalang nila mag-expire ang kanilang EOC tapos makikikabit nalang sa ibang EOC, parang taxi at bus [There are already too many. Those small operators simply wait for their EOC to expire then would hang onto other EOC, like those with taxi and bus]," said Cesar Lucero, flight investigator of CAAP (note that there are also taxis and buses operating illegally, following the bad practice they coined as "Colorum").

CAAP is implementing measures to catch corrupt airline operators.

Aside from auditing their licenses, CAAP will conduct spot checking whenever operators fly their planes.

"Siguraduhin lang ninyo na ang eroplano niyo ay covered by insurance [Just make sure your planes are covered by insurance]," added Gutierrez.

The agency estimated that there are 84 airline operators in the country, 36 of which are flying and training companies.


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