Probe into ill-fated medical flight may take up to a year: CAAP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 08:02 AM | Updated as of Mar 30 2020 01:19 PM

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday said an investigation into a Japan-bound plane that caught fire on takeoff at the Manila airport Sunday, leaving 8 dead, might take up to a year.

The Lionair-operated Westwind aircraft was bound for Haneda airport Sunday, on a medical evacuation mission carrying 6 crew members and 2 passengers, an American and a Canadian, said Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Spokesperson Erik Apolonio. 

Authorities need to examine the wreckage, interview witnesses on the ground and get the aircraft's service record, he said.

In a separate statement, CAAP said that "the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of the Agusta WW24 aircraft has been recovered from the scene." 

"The recovery will further aid the investigation and help answer why the crash might have occurred," the statement read.

The recorder will be sent to Singapore, Japan or Australia for analysis, Apolinario told DZMM. 

All these steps may take "between 6 months to one year," he said.

Debris of the Lionair medical evacuation plane that exploded during takeoff is seen on the runway of the Manila International Airport in Pasay City, Sunday. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

FLEET SUSPENDED

Lionair's "entire fleet will be grounded" while investigations are ongoing, according to CAAP's statement.

Authorities will probe "if there are aviation safety procedures violated by the aircraft operator and/or the crew," it said.

"Lionair is informed of the developments in the accident and is coordinating with the victims' families," it said.

Names of the victims will not be divulged while the investigation is "still not concluded," CAAP said.

Lionair is also the owner of a medical evacuation aircraft that crashed in Calamba, Laguna and left 9 dead in September last year. 

Authorities are still investigating the incident and have sent the reconstructed plane for analysis abroad, said Apolinario. 

"It takes time also. Hindi naman po puwedeng basta tingnan lang tapos i-assume na natin na ganoon ang nangyari" he told DZMM. 

Authorities will release initial information on the latest crash "within the day," he said. 
 
The runway where the 8 p.m. accident happened re-opened at 5 a.m. Monday, said Apolinario. 

Most passenger aircraft at the airport have been grounded for weeks since the government put Manila and the rest of the main Philippine island of Luzon on quarantine to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With a report from Agence France-Presse ​