Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why were there no Masbate airport personnel when Robredo’s plane crashed? Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, Aviatour Air, RP-C4431, off Masbate, Philippines ... Control tower ng Masbate Airport, wala raw tao ng mga oras na binalak


There must have been a distress call, but no one answered. 

Shortly before the Piper Seneca plane carrying Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and three others hit the sea, the pilots sent a distress call to Masbate airport requesting for an emergency landing, but there were no airline personnel in the control tower.

“Wala na kasing [tao]; hanggang alas-dos lang sila eh. Wala na. Uwian na,” said airport insider Alex (who refused to be named) in a report on GMA’s “24 Oras."

Beyond 2 pm, the airport’s runway turns into a public thoroughfare for tricycles and other vehicles, as the news report's video showed. Without personnel in the tower or on the tarmac to alert others, Robredo's plane could have collided with ground traffic if it attempted an emergency landing at the airport.

"Kulang na kulang ang tao, kahit sa loob ng opisina. Sa admin, kulang ang tao,” Alex added.

This has not always been the case. According to the exclusive report by GMA reporter John Consulta, the airport’s control tower used to be manned until 6 p.m.

The policy was changed in 2005. Airport personnel also began to dwindle.

“Nabawasan na rin daw ang tao sa Masbate Airport. Mula sa dating tatlo, dalawa na lang tumatao sa control tower. Ang dating 15 katao naman na bumbubuo sa airport firefighting unit ngayon ay 9 na lang. Nagretiro na ang karamihan sa kanila ngayon,” Consulta reported.

Department of Transportation and Communications spokesperson Nic Conti said that because Masbate is just an alternate airport, its personnel are not commissioned to man the airport for the whole day.

Still, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas earlier said that the authorities who should have been manning the communications tower will be summoned in the ongoing air crash investigation.

Amado Soliman, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board head, noted that even if the control tower had responded to the call, it probably could only have given it priority to make an emergency landing.

“[Upon receiving the distress call,] the control tower may just give priority in traffic in their airport or priority to land as soon as possible,” he explained.

According to published reports, the lone survivor in the August 18 crash, Robredo’s aide-de-camp June Abrazado, said that their aircraft missed the runway.

Instead, the Piper Seneca headed to the sea, avoiding the populous residential area in Barangay Ibingay, he recounted.

The plane plunged into the water about 500 meters from the runway, killing Robredo, pilot Jessup Bahinting and co-pilot Kshitiz Chand. — Roucchelle R. Dinglasan/ BM/HS, GMA News

 Source:   http://www.gmanetwork.com

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