Another Cebu Pacific plane skids

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A Cebu Pacific Airways plane skidded on the runway at Ninoy Aquino International Airport and damaged edge lights on Thursday, less than two weeks after another airplane belonging to the airline veered off the runway and fell into a ditch at Davao International Airport, leaving 165 passengers shaken.

None of the 95 passengers of Flight 5J-448 was hurt when the plane, an Airbus A320, skidded on Naia’s runway 06/24 after landing in heavy rain on Thursday afternoon.

But Capt. John Andrews, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), said Flight 5J-448’s pilot, Capt. Joseph Palomillo, was “automatically grounded” for a medical examination after the incident.

A report from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), operator of Naia, said Flight 5J-488 from Iloilo City landed at 4:16 p.m. on Thursday, but as the plane was taxiing down runway 06/24, it skidded to the right and hit five edge lights.

Andrews said the Airbus A320 swerved to the runway’s shoulder, but remained on the tarmac.

The plane ran over the runway lights, he said.

The pilot managed to correct the Airbus A320’s direction and proceeded to bring the plane toward the Terminal 3 ramp, where the passengers disembarked.

CAAP chief financial officer Rodante Joya said the CAAP would “conduct an investigation.”

“I offer that since all involved in the accident have been interviewed and the black box recovered immediately, the investigation can be done relatively faster,” Joya said.

The investigation of the runway incident at Davao International Airport on June 2, also involving an Airbus A320, is still going on.

Cebu Pacific’s Flight 5J-971 landed in heavy rain just after 7 p.m. that Sunday when the plane veered from the runway’s center and ended up nose down in the grass off the runway.

The plane’s front landing gear was damaged, and it took two days to remove the Airbus from the runway, disrupting operations at Davao International Airport.

Airlines operating into Davao had to bus their passengers to and from General Santos City at no extra charge because of the closure of the runway at Davao International Airport.

Malacañang was quiet yesterday on calls for the grounding of Cebu Pacific following the second incident involving the airline this month.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters about the CAAP’s initial action, including the grounding of Flight 5J-448’s pilots and the inspection of the aircraft.

Plane not damaged

Despite his perceived failure to deal with aviation safety and improve airport conditions in the country, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya does not seem to be on the way out.

Valte said Abaya still had the trust of President Aquino.

In Thursday’s incident, Andrews said there was no “outward damage” to the Airbus 320, but “certain parts” of the plane were inspected to “assess the incident’s impact.”

Cebu Pacific said on Friday that the aircraft was undergoing a “thorough check, while all other flights continued to run as scheduled.

Andrews said it was Cebu Pacific that requested the CAAP to conduct a “hard landing inspection” of the plane as a precaution.

He said the plane would be released once the inspection was finished, expected within the day.

Andrews said pilot Palomillo remained grounded yesterday. He had undergone a routine medical exam, but the CAAP had yet to get his statement, Andrews said.

 

Heavy rain

He said the heavy rain on Thursday might have been a factor in the incident, though he noted that the plane landed normally despite the bad weather.

“We’ll see where the accountability lies, and if this correlates with the Davao accident,” Andrews said.

The MIAA said it would assess the “extent of damage for possible claims with Cebu Pacific.” With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Miguel R. Camus

 

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