Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beechcraft 95-B55 Baron, SN Aboitiz Power-Magat Inc., RP-C1974: Accident occurred April 27, 2014 Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya - Philippines

Philippines plane crew hailed as heroes 

Four were killed after crashing while carrying out cloud seeding operation in central Luzon 

Manila: Four people who died in a plane crash while performing cloud seeding operations in central Luzon in the Philippines in late April have been hailed as heroes.

Ceremonies were held for pilots Philip Jubane and Christopher Evan Borja, and government scientists Melvin Simangan and Leilanie Naga of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management of the Department of Agriculture in Tagbilaran City in Bohol Province on May 10, a state news report said.

Jubane, who hails from Bohol, was piloting the propeller-driven, twin-engine Beechcraft Baron that crashed in Villa Coloma village, Bagbag town in Nueva Vizcaya province.

The aircraft had been chartered by a local energy firm, SN Aboitiz Power, to perform cloud seeding over the Magat watershed area where the Magat Hydroelectric Dam is located.

Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that enhances the ability of clouds to produce rain by introducing a substance such as table salt either at the cloud base or cloud top.

During his short speech, provincial board member Tomas Abapo said the four deserve recognition for performing the task as a drought is expected to hit the Philippines.

The Magat Dam is already nearing its critical water level.

Power generation as well as irrigation over most of the Philippines is highly dependent on rainfall and any disruption of expected precipitation could deal serious setbacks to the economy of the region as well as the whole country.

Earlier, the Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) predicted that El Nino, which is characterised by the disruption on the wet and dry seasons, would have an adverse effect on the country’s weather.

Normally, the dry season in the Philippines start from March until May. During an El Nino episode, however, this could extend to until June or even July, thus seriously disrupting not just crop planting schedules, but power generation as well as business and private consumers have to deal with long power cuts.

Aside from the Magat Dam, the Angat Dam also provides power, water and irrigation to the northern main island of Luzon.

Angat Dam is also said to be nearing critical water levels.

Meanwhile, Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) said the crash that killed two scientists and pilots “highlights the plight of government field scientists who are in constant risks while performing their jobs”.

Government scientists have long been complaining about the low pay they had been getting, causing them to look for jobs in other countries.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, there were 181 per million research and development personnel in the Philippines in 2009, way below the Unesco requirement of 380 per million.

 Death of scientists exposes government neglect–group

AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) on Monday condemned the death of a group of scientists from Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in a plane crash in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, while on a cloud-seeding mission late last month.

“The incident highlights the plight of field scientists who are in constant risks while performing their jobs. However, despite the invaluable role that they play in the development of Philippines society, science and technology professionals are neglected by the government,” Finesa Cosico, Agham secretary- general said.

The Department of Agriculture’s BSWM is tasked to conduct cloud-seeding operations as an intervention in drought-stricken areas where there is a need for water supply for food production.

Cloud seeding is a weather modification process that enhances the ability of the cloud to produce precipitation by introducing a seeding agent such as table salt either at the cloud base or cloud top.

Since May 5 BSWM has successfully conducted 15 cloud- seeding activities in the towns of Aglipay, Maddela and Nagtipunan in Quirino province and the Magat watershed area in Isabela to provide irrigation water to 4,135 hectares of corn in.

On April 27, however, the light plane used by BSWM crashed, killing scientists Melvin Simangan and Leilanie Naga along with the pilot and aircrew.

Agham said another tragic death was that of a weather forecaster during the height of the storm surge in Tacloban City when Supertyphoon Yolanda hit the place. He stayed behind to continue his work in tracking the storm.

“These tragic deaths leave the question of safety and protection of our field scientists who are in constant risks while performing their jobs,” he said.

The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and Personnel defines hazard as a “source of danger that poses risks in work areas, units and stations to which the science and technology personnel are assigned. Hazardous areas are “difficult-distressed or hardship posts characterized by geographical distance, inconvenience of travel due to bad roads and conditions of the terrain, isolation, inaccessibility or extreme weather conditions or both and remote or depressed areas.”

The group pointed out that scientists and research and development personnel who are constantly exposed to hazards remain small in number in the Philippines. According to the DOST’s Compendium of Science and Technology Statistics that was released in July 2012, there were 181 research and development personnel per million population 2009, way below the Unesco requirement of 380 per million population, the group said.

With the research and development personnel being already small in number, their welfare and development is still being neglected by the government. Expenditures for research and development in the country had been decreasing from 2002-2009 averaging at only 0.12 percent of gross domestic product. This is below the 1-percent level requirement of Unesco for developing countries, Cosico added.

Henry Naga, brother of Leilanie Naga—one of the four fatalities in the April 27 crash of a cloud-seeding aircraft in Bagabag,  Nueva Vizcaya—receives from Secretary of Agriculture Proceso Alcala and Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Director Silvino Tejada a certificate of commendation that recognizes his sister’s service to the department,in a ceremony held yesterday at the BSWM Lopez Hall in Quezon City. A similar recognition was also given to Engineer Melvin Simangan, a co-worker of Naga who also died in the tragedy. A one-night vigil was held at the BSWM for Naga, before her remains were flown to her hometown of Camalig, Albay the following day. Remains of Engineer Simangan were brought home in Solana, Cagayan by his family directly from Nueva Vizcaya.




BAGABAG, Nueva Vizcaya, April 28 (PIA) – Security has been tightened here to ensure the  availability of  all parts of the plane’s wreckage in barangay Sta. Lucia in this town.

Several soldiers and policemen were dispatched to the crash site to provide security on the remains of the ill-fated plane that crashed yesterday afternoon in barangay Sta. Lucia here.

Leonardo Afan, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the joint  forces of army and police are necessary to prevent possible looting of the plane’s parts.

“Any part of the plane is vital to the conduct of investigation by CAAP personnel  and there are still portions of the plane that contains flammable materials,” Afan said.

He said a high octane gas might still be intact which can explode at a click of fire.

Afan said he saw the plane suddenly swirling down at 2:45 p.m. yesterday from an estimated altitude of 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

The Beechraft Baron airplane with registration number RPC 1974 and owned by Grand Air was on a cloud seeding mission when the accident happened.

The plane’s one wing including its engine also fell from the air and are now 200 meters away from the plane main wreckage, Afan said.

He said investigators from the CAAP  is expected to arrive today to conduct probe on the incident which killed four passengers aboard.

The victims were Lailanie Naga, Cristopher Borja, Melvin Sumangan and pilot Philip Giobani. The three passengers were employees of the Department of Agriculture's (DA) Bureau of Water and Soil Management (BSWM).

The plane took off from Cauayan City airport after it was requested by the SN Aboitiz company to conduct cloud seeding  to reinforce the water level of the Magat dam in Ramon, Isabela. 

“Usually, could seeding activities  are very dangerous  missions because it involves finding the right clouds to seed with salt,” Afan said.

OLANO, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines – Four people were killed after a Beech Baron that was conducting cloud seeding operations crashed in a cornfield in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya at noon yesterday.

Senior Superintendent Valfrie Tabian, Nueva Vizcaya police director, identified the fatalities as Philip Jubane, the pilot, and passengers Leilani Naga, Christopher Evan Borja and Melvin Simangan, all employees of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management of the Department of Agriculture.

The plane, with registered number RP C1974, was rented by SN Aboitiz Power to conduct cloud seeding operation over the watershed areas of Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao to induce rains for the Magat Dam located along the border of the two provinces.

A Filipino-Norwegian Consortium, SN Aboitiz owns and operates the power component of Magat Dam.

Chief Inspector Chevalier Iringan, Bagabag police chief, said the firm decided to start seeding operations since the water level of the Magat dam reservoir is critical.

The crash took place near the Bagabag airstrip where the plane was believed to be attempting to land, police said.

4 patay sa pagbagsak ng eroplano sa Nueva Vizcaya

Apat ang patay sa pagbagsak ng maliit na eroplano sa Barangay Sta. Lucia, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya nitong hapon.

Sinabi ni C/Insp. Chevalier Iringan na tatlo sa mga nasawi ay babae.

Nagsasagawa umano ng cloud seeding ang eroplano nang bumagsak.

Ang tatlo sa mga biktima ay sinasabing empleyado ng Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

Inaalam pa ang sanhi ng pagbagsak ng Beech Baron aircraft.


BAYOMBONG, Philippines — Four people were killed after a plane conducting cloud-seeding operations crashed at a corn field in Bagabag town, Nueva Vizcaya province, on Sunday afternoon, police said.

Chief Inspector Chevalier Iringan, Bagabag police chief, said the RP C1974, a Baron fixed-wing airplane, crashed at 2:45 p.m. in Barangay (village) Villa Coloma in Bagabag.

Iringan said the flight plan showed the plane took off from the Cauayan City airport in nearby Isabela province and was flying over the watershed of the Magat River when it crashed.

The crash instantly killed all four on board, including the pilot identified in the manifest as Philip Jubane, as well as Christopher Evan Borja, Melvin Simangan and Leilanie Naga, all employees of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

Leonardo Afan, officer in-charge of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) at the Bagabag airport, the plane was commissioned by the SN Aboitiz Power-Magat Inc. to conduct four cloud-seeding missions over the Magat watershed.

SN Aboitiz, which operates the 360-megawatt Magat hydroelectric power plant in Ramon town in Isabela, resorted to cloud-seeding to augment the dwindling water supply of the plant’s reservoir.

The plane was reportedly on the last of its four flights – two on Saturday and two on Sunday – when the accident happened.

Iringan said residents saw a part of the plane fall off before it plunged.

He said police recovered the left wing of the aircraft some 150 meters from the wreckage that was found about 1.5 kilometers from the Bagabag airport.

Iringan said the police would leave the investigation of the crash to the CAAP.