CAAP starts probe of Isabela plane crash
CAUAYAN CITY — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) on Friday began investigating the cause of the Cessna plane crash in Isabela province that killed all its six passengers.
The wreckage of the six-seat Gen AV Cessna 206 was found in the forest of Barangay Ditarum in Divilacan town within the Sierra Madre mountain ranges on Thursday, or 45 days since it went missing on January 24 shortly after it took off from Cauayan Domestic Airport bound for Maconacon town.
According to the incident management team, the pilot and all five passengers were found dead at the crash site at around 1 p.m. on Thursday but bringing their bodies down would take about three days due to the rough forest terrain.
On Friday, Caap deputy director for general operations Edgardo Diaz said the retrieval team was instructed to secure and preserve the crash site so the agency’s investigators, who have arrived in the area on Friday, could determine what caused the accident.
No signal sent
“It is very important to preserve all the objects found at the crash site. We still don’t know if the crash was due to the plane’s structure, propeller or engine,” Diaz said in a radio interview.
He said they were also trying to determine if the crash was due to the weather conditions during the time it went missing.
He revealed that the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter (ELT) failed to send a signal that it was experiencing trouble when it disappeared from the radar.
“It still baffles us why the ELT did not work. It was supposed to be automatically triggered in case of an impact or switched on manually by the pilot to send a signal that it was in distress,” Diaz said.
Killed in the crash were pilot Capt. Eleazar Mark Joven and passengers Val Kamatoy, 34; Kamatoy’s nephews—Rom Josthle Manaday, 15, and siblings Mark Eiron Siguerra, 20, and Xam Siguerra, 10; and Josefa Perla España. Most of the passengers were going to attend a relative’s wake in Maconacon, some 60 kilometers from Cauayan.
Ground rescuers said the aircraft was cut in half and some of its parts were found hanging in trees while the victims’ bodies were already in an advanced state of decomposition.
According to Diaz, there are about 150 registered Cessna planes in the country and all of these have to undergo an annual inspection to ensure they are airworthy.
He said the result of the investigation would indicate if there would be a need to ground all other Cessna planes in the country.
The Cessna RPC340 plane that crashed on Mayon Volcano in Albay province on February 18 and killed all four persons on board was also found to be in good condition before it was allowed to fly, Diaz said.
“We didn’t find any reason to prevent it (RPC340) from flying out,” Diaz said, adding that all other aircraft in the country were “properly inspected” by the operators and the pilots before they were allowed to go on a flight.
—VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.