Passenger notes Cebu Pacific pilot’s `strange behavior’ during flight | Inquirer News

Passenger notes Cebu Pacific pilot’s `strange behavior’ during flight

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 08:54 PM June 05, 2013

This Airbus A-320 of Cebu Pacific Air landed on a grassy area off the runway of Davao International Airport in Davao City. All 165 passengers, including two pilots and four flight attendants, were evacuated safely. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines -As aviation investigators zero in on possible human error in Sunday’s rough landing of a Cebu Pacific aircraft in Davao City, one passenger’s account could provide clues on the condition of one of the pilots during the flight.

In a detailed account of his family’s experience aboard the Cebu Pacific plane, Davao City businessman Nino Alinsub noted how one pilot kept on using the lavatory during the short flight, observing that he “looked dazed” every time he got out.


“Throughout the flight, the passengers noticed something strange. The pilot went to the restroom about four times within an hour, and every time he gets out he looked dazed. At one time he even asked the stewardess to make coffee for him,” said Alinsub in his narration.


“I do not want to make any speculations but most people can hold it even for the entire trip (around one hour and 40 minutes). A fellow passenger who was seated at the first few rows in front whom I was able to talk with after the incident proved this fact true,” said the passenger in his account posted on social networking site Facebook.

It was unclear, however, whether it was the plane’s lead pilot Capt. Antonio Roel Oropesa or his co-pilot First Officer Edwin Perello whom Alinsub and his fellow passengers saw having frequent trips to the restroom.


Titled “My 5J-971 Near- Death Experience: The Timeline As Seen from the Cabin,” Alinsub’s post detailed his family’s experience aboard the Manila-to-Davao flight, which missed the runway upon touchdown around 7:10 p.m. Sunday.

In his narration shared more than 3,600 times as of Wednesday, Alinsub said he had a clear view of the left engine, having been seated with his wife and 5-year-old son on row 22 of the aircraft.

Alinsub remembered the pilot telling passengers of the plane’s descent towards the Davao airport at 6:25 p.m., advising that “the weather was fair but a little cloud,” an announcement that gave passengers “a sigh of relief.”

But turbulence met the plane upon approach of the runway. Alinsub later noticed the aircraft’s unusual speed as it lined up for touchdown.

“I am a frequent traveler, and this is my 11th plane ride this year alone. We were really going in fast! I did not see the flaps moving even a bit when we were approaching the runway. Based on my experience it should have initially moved as we got nearer to subsequently decrease our airspeed but there was no movement at all. I was shocked when I looked out the window and we were that close to the ground at that speed!” said Alinsub.

He then remembered the 50-ton plane hitting the ground, “like a bowling ball hitting the floor.” He felt the plane take a hard brake, causing passengers to lunge forward and the bag overhead to rumble.

“At the back of my mind I was thinking this is it! I was waiting for something to blow up. The plane veered heavily to the right the sound of metal dragged on the ground was something you won’t forget pretty soon and then I heard a pop from underneath us, probably the wheels breaking off or going aground, just before the plane took a front nose-dive on the grass. Luckily, when the airplane stopped it didn’t happen,” read Alinsub’s account.

His recollection of the touchdown appears consistent with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ initial findings, in which the aircraft missed the 40-meter-wide runway and instead touched down on the shoulder and skidded nose-down towards the grassy part adjacent to the strip.

CAAP Deputy Director General John Andrews, a former pilot, had said human error was the likely cause of the incident, saying the pilot failed to follow established procedure of an Airbus A-320 landing against the crosswind.

Andrews said the crosswind at the time was at a speed of around 12 knots, still “considered safe to operate this landing,” where the pilot should have banked towards the direction of the crosswind in order to stay on the runway’s centerline.

The investigation includes also tracing the pilot’s prior rest time and even meals before the flight, factors that could have affected their performance in the cockpit, Andrews had said.

Grounded pending investigation, Oropesa and Perello both underwent medical examination immediately following the incident.

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Andrews earlier said both pilots were qualified to fly the A-320 and are known to have flown regional flights. Airlines have varying requirements on pilots’ minimum flying hours before being allowed to command particular aircraft, but CAAP said Oropesa’s 1,600 hours and Perello’s 700 hours on the A-320 were enough.

TAGS: Accident, Airline, Aviation, News, Pilot

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