CAAP grounds entire fleet of Lionair after fatal crash
MANILA, Philippines — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has grounded the entire fleet of aircraft charter service company Lionair Inc. after one of its medical evacuation (Medevac) planes burst into flames during takeoff in Manila last night, killing all eight people onboard.
“While investigation on the medical evacuation plane RP-C5880 is ongoing, it has been decided that Lionair’s entire fleet will be grounded,” the air safety regulator said in a statement on Monday.
Lionair’s Westwind 24 aircraft encountered a problem that resulted in a fire while it was rolling for takeoff on Runway 06 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 8:00 p.m. on March 29, CAAP had said.
The flight was bound for Haneda Airport in Japan. The fatalities involved six Filipinos and two passengers who were Canadian and US nationals.
Naia’s runway 06 was temporarily closed. It reopened on 4:20 a.m. March 30, the Manila International Airport Authority said.
Lionair claims to be the country’s leading helicopter and executive jet charter company. It has a fleet of seven planes and helicopters, its website showed.
Lionair was also the operator of a Beechcraft King Air that crashed in Calamba City, Laguna last September 2019, killing all nine people onboard.
The aircraft is operated by Lionair Inc., owned by businessman Archibald Po, and not to be confused with Lion Air, the Indonesian airline company.
CAAP said the investigation is being led by the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board. It said the Flight Safety Investigation Committee will probe whether the operator violated flight safety procedures.
The cockpit voice recorder of the Westwind 24 aircraft has been recovered from the scene.
“The recovery will further aid the investigation and help answer why the crash might have occurred,” CAAP said.
Lionair was informed of the developments in the accident and is coordinating with the victims’ families, it added.
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