MANILA, Philippines - The Dec. 10 plane crash that killed 14 people in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City was caused by “human factor or pilot error,” the chief of the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) said yesterday.
The pilot, Capt. Timoteo Aldo, “tried to come back hurriedly” after the twin-engine cargo plane’s left engine died “when according to our review of the video, he was only 200 feet in altitude,” AAIIB chief Capt. Amado Soliman said during a press conference.
Noting that Aldo turned toward the left or the “dead” engine instead of the right, Soliman said the combination of low altitude and wrong turn made the aircraft enter into a spin that the pilot was unable to correct.
He said that going by the book, the pilot of an aircraft whose engine has failed should have continued to climb up to 1,000 feet before attempting to go back to the runway.
Capt. Elmer Peña, chief of the Flight Safety Inspectorate Service and a member of the probe panel, said the minimum altitude required for that particular type of aircraft to make a turn is 400 feet.
Starved for fuel
Soliman said that they could not pinpoint any trouble upon opening the left engine, which led the investigators to surmise that the engine suffered “fuel starvation.”
“According to eyewitnesses we interviewed, the engine was backfiring prior to the crash, which made us believe that there was not enough fuel reaching it,” he said.
He added that after opening the engine in the course of the investigation, they found that the crucial parts remained intact.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines director general Ramon Gutierrez said they are now requiring pilots of “old’ aircraft to submit certificates of training through simulators. He said emergency procedures can no longer be conducted on older generation aircraft.
“The proficiency training on old aircraft could no longer be executed and in its absence we require simulator training,” Gutierrez said.
He added that the owner of the airplane, Capt. Fidel Hembrador, submitted a valid Aircraft Operating Certificate and insurance on Jan. 15, 2010 but the policy expired last September so the plane was no longer covered when it crashed.
Hembrador, according to the investigation, is the real owner of the airplane while Capt. Arthur Velasques, operator of Aviation Technologies Innovators, leased the airplane from him through a verbal agreement.
The RP-C824 converted cargo plane was on the way to San Jose, Mindoro to pick up a shipment of marine products when it crashed shortly after take off and plunged to the ground four and a half miles away from the runway. - By Rudy Santos