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Robredo crash report not final, say probers

MANILA, Philippines–The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has distanced itself from a draft report that pointed to pilot error as one of the main causes of the plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo and two others in August.

The CAAP also chastised one of its special investigators, Cesar Lucero, for commenting publicly on the crash prior to the release of the final results of the agency’s probe of the incident.

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“The government wants to make sure the report is accurate and comprehensive. (We) will give full closure to the crash,” the CAAP said in a statement Monday.

It said Lucero’s statements were unauthorized. “Lucero gives irresponsible statements and just could not wait for the official report,” the agency said.

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CAAP said that outside of the five-member investigating body created by former Transportation and now Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, President Benigno Aquino III would be the first to see the full and final report before it is made public.

According to the 14-page draft report by the CAAP investigating body, Capt. Jessup Bahinting, the pilot and owner of the ill-fated six-seater Piper Seneca plane that crashed off Masbate on Aug. 18, lacked the ability to handle the aircraft in bad conditions.

Bahinting and Nepalese student pilot Khshitiz Chand died with Robredo in the crash.

The draft report said Bahinting had erred when he decided not to turn back to Cebu at the first sign of engine trouble, and that the pilot had ignored orders by air safety authorities to remain at 2,500 feet given the abnormal circumstances.

Data from Manila’s air control center showed the plane had climbed to 4,000 feet prior to the crash, the draft report added.

The report also quoted lone crash survivor police Senior Inspector Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s aide, as saying that “(s)uddenly, he saw the plane slowly veering to the left for (its) final approach to the runway but it seemed to him that the pilot had miscalculated the runway and maneuvered the plane too late, and they went past the runway.”

Lucero, who was previously suspended for 90 days for conducting a separate probe of the crash, likewise noted several errors by Bahinting that led to the crash.

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As stated in the draft report, Lucero said Bahinting bungled the emergency landing in Masbate by turning the plane right in the direction of the dead engine, causing the plane to pitch and crash.

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TAGS: Accident, Aviation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, investigation, Jesse M. Robredo, News
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