PH aviation authorities probe Xiamen aircraft fiasco

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PH aviation authorities probe Xiamen aircraft fiasco
By Ma. Cristina Arayata

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Philippine aviation authorities and representatives from Xiamen Air met on Monday to probe the incident where Xiamen Air flight MF8667 skidded off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) late Thursday (Aug. 16) causing the closure of the airport’s runway 06/24 and cancellation and diversion of flights which affected thousands of air passengers.

NAIA’s international runway went back to normal operation before noon on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a number of domestic flights were cancelled on Monday due to limited runway operations.

Aviation authorities explained that airlines are still adjusting their flight schedules following the Xiamen aircraft fiasco.

The flight delays, cancellations, and diversions since Thursday brought a domino effect to subsequent flights, as these flights need to get terminal slots.

“Data gathering is ongoing. Investigators are interviewing the crew. Then we will verify the data based on the flight data recorder, which would take about a week,” Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco said in a press conference held at the airport on Monday afternoon.

“After that, the investigation team will sit down and talk about the things that should be done,” he continued.

Aviation authorities bared that Xiamen Air’s pilot and co-pilot tested negative for drugs. Alcohol test was also done, but the result may take some time, they added.

Sydiongco noted that prior to the incident the CAAP did not receive any pilot’s report from those who utilized runway 06/24 prior to Xiamen Air.

“A pilot’s report is a report being submitted to us regarding visibility and other instances that pilots encounter. No one also reported ‘standing water’ (water on the runway) prior to Xiamen Air,” explained Marlene Singson, head of Manila Control Tower.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said Xiamen Air will pay the damage cost, but MIAA will still have to compute this.

“We’re not yet done computing the damage cost, because our priority was the safety of our recovery team, and now to bring back normal operations at our airport,” Monreal said.

He added that the situation at NAIA is now improving, as lesser flights are being cancelled.

Meanwhile, Monreal clarified that MIAA took over the recovery operations because waiting for Xiamen Air’s recovery team will take more time and will just result to more days of runway closure.

“Under the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and based on the Airport Emergency Manual, the one accountable for aircraft extraction is the owner or the operator of the aircraft,” he said.

He noted, however, that if the airline operator or owner fails to do it, the airport operator may take over and hire a third party to extract the aircraft.

“We didn’t just decide (to do it). We based it from the ICAO. If we would wait for Xiamen Air’s recovery team to go here, that would take much more time, and the airport may have been closed for a week,” he explained. (PNA)

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