By Dhel Nazario
The aircraft of Xiamen Airlines that skidded off the runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was carrying three tons of fuel and that hastening its removal would have been “catastrophic” according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
“During that time, hindi pwedeng i-explain ng recovery team na ganito ang nangyayari [During that time, the recovery team cannot explain (to the media) that this is what’s happening]” CAAP Spokesperson Eric Apolonio said. Apolonio added that telling this to the media at the time of the incident would only cause panic and worsen the situation.
“Safe naman ho yun, pero kasi kami lang tintingnan namin wahat if nabagsak, nabali ang eroplano catastrophic ang labas nyan, may fuel, [It was safe (the recovery operations) but we (CAAP) are thinking what if the plane fell off while being carried? It would have been catastrophic, considering it has fuel]” Apolonio explained.
An explosion would have caused more damage to the runway, and result to more delays according to Apolonio. On the claim that it should have been bulldozed, it was also not possible to do so since the plane was carrying three tons of fuel.
But on the other hand, defuelling the plane would have also caused more delay since Boeing was the only one authorized to do so according to the CAAP Spokesperson. The aircraft is now under the custody of the agency where no one can have easy access to it.
Xiamen pilots were experts, not rookies
The two pilots of the plane according to Apolonio were experts in flying the said aircraft since the 50-year-old pilot had 16,000 flying hours while the 28-year-old co-pilot had 9,000 flying hours.
“Hindi natin pwedeng sabihin na bagito [We can’t really say they’re newbies.]” he said. Apolonio said that pilots all over the world undergo the a recurrency training to familiarize hemselves with the latest innovations with regards to the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the aircraft’s flight data recorder has been brought to Singapore to be decoded as results are expected next week. CAAP originally spoke with Japan with the decoding of the flight’s data but due to the language barrier, the agency opted to communicate with Singapore. The result will be given, according to Apolonio, will be given after five working days.