Plane’s locator failed during Masbate crashCebu Daily News
THE emergency location transmitter (ELT) of the small airplane that crashed off the coast of Masbate failed to activate on impact.
This surfaced in the initial investigation of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
“The ELT of the Piper Seneca plane was in the off position, indicating that it failed to activate upon the plane’s impact off the waters of Masbate last Saturday,” the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said yesterday.
The pilots reportedly called the Masbate airport requesting for an emergency landing due to engine trouble before it crashed 500 meters from the runway, killing the two pilots and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Aviatour Air Inc., which owned the Piper Seneca plane piloted by its owner Capt. Jessup Bahinting, yesterday called on the CAAP to speed up its investigation into the crash.
It also appealed to authorities not to shut down the flight school in Mactan.
Aviatour HR manager Michelle Ferol said most of their nearly 200 students are joining the appeal since it would affect their training.
The company voluntarily grounded its fleet ahead of a CAAP suspension following the crash on Aug. 18.
In a statement, the DOTC said the emergency locator automatically activates when a plane makes an emergency landing or encounters any accident.
The plane’s ELT was found in the plane’s wreckage last Wednesday.
It was inspected by the three-man Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) of the CAAP.
CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III said the plane’s ELT was last checked on November 21, 2011 and was valid for a year.
It was functioning well on that regular routine check.
Hotchkiss said the investigation board was still conducting further search and retrieval of the plane’s right engine while the wreckage is under tight security at Masbate airport.
“It is too early to speculate. Our investigating team is still examining the plane wreckage to determine the cause of the accident,” Hotchkiss said.
He said the engine is a key part of their investigation.
“This will determine if indeed it was due to technical or mechanical problem that caused it to fail,” he added.
Hotchkiss dismissed speculations the plane was running on diluted aviation fuel.
He said it was part of the investigation to check the fuel and where the plane last refuelled before the fatal crash last Saturday.
The investigation team was also looking at the plane’s flight path including communication between control towers and the pilot.
The CAAP said it was taking the statements of key witnesses and will subpoena others as part of their investigation.
“We will not leave any stone unturned to find out the real cause of the accident,” Hotchkiss said.
For their part, Ferol said their company observes the strictest safety measures.
“Bahinting personally flies with each student before he signs documents for a license, he makes sure they produce very good pilots,” she said.
She said their school produced about 800 pilots, most of whom were Egyptians, Saudi nationals, Nepalese, Indians, Nigerians, Syrians, Koreans, Chinese and Americans.
Capt. Antonio Jureidini, Aviatour flight school director, said they’re asking CAAP to finish their investigation “in four to five days.”
He said the students want to finish their minimum allocation of flying hours to qualify as pilots.
“The students are our responsibility. If the school is closed, no aspiring pilot outside the country would think of enrolling here,” he said. Inquirer with stories from Correspondents Norman V. Mendoza, Gabriel C. Bonjoc and Rhea Ruth V. Rosell