Mon. Jul 26th, 2021

MANILA — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday grounded the entire fleet of Lionair Inc., the operator of the medical evacuation (medevac) plane that burst into flames during takeoff at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Sunday night.

CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio clarified that the decision was due to Sunday night’s incident, not including the Laguna plane crash in September 2019, wherein Lionair was also the operator.

Investigation on the medevac plane with registry number RP-C5880 is still ongoing, and investigators have already retrieved the cockpit voice recorder.

The plane bound for Japan exploded at the end of NAIA runway 24 at around 8 p.m. All eight onboard — six Filipino crew, and two foreign nationals passengers — did not survive the accident.

Authorities will investigate if there are aviation safety procedures violated by the operator and/or the crew.

CAAP deputy director general Don Mendoza earlier said those from the Manila Tower noticed the medevac plane was having difficulty, saying that based on the size of the aircraft, it took some time for it to take off.

Meanwhile, due to the accident, the airport runway was temporarily closed until almost 5 a.m. Monday.

This has affected three flights — one Korean Air flight that was diverted to Clark on Sunday night, and two Hong Kong Airlines flights that were re-scheduled to arrive and depart Monday afternoon. (PNA)

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