Thursday, August 23, 2018

On Questions Concerning the Recovery and Clearing Operations of Disabled Xiamen Aircraft

Wazzup Pilipinas!

21 August 2018

Recovering a disabled aircraft is far different from towing a bus or a car. There are technical protocols (ICAO standards) and intervening factors that all international airports observe in recovering a disabled aircraft.

In the case of the recent Xiamen incident, please note that in addition to its size and weight, there were also four (4) tons of unused fuel at the wings that are highly combustible, necessitating extra care to avoid fire or explosion. Apart from passengers, we also think about the safety of the rescuers. 

One false move, the plane might explode.

All procedures as written in our airport emergency plan on aircraft recovery were followed. Unfortunately, the aircraft straddled on very muddy terrain. Adding to the struggle is the uncooperative weather condition—strong winds, and heavy rains.

We had to bring in a high capacity telescopic crane(500t)-rented.
As to passengers, please note that airlines are the ones that control and manage the services they render to their passengers. 

The CAB and the MIAA have consistently reminded the airlines to observe the Air Passengers Bill of Rights, which the present administration, CAB/MIAA/CAAP, have improved and refined in the early days of their assumption to office.

All flight cancellations and delays announced by the airlines were echoed by the DOTr, MIAA, CAB, and CAAP in all available communications platforms. MIAA GM Ed Monreal, CAAP DG Jim Sydiongco, and CAB Officials made it a point to call for a presscon atleast six (6) times to explain to the media and the public what the scenario was, and to provide updates on the aircraft recovery and clearing operations.

Habang ang ilan, abala sa pagpuna, kami, abala sa pagta-trabaho.

As DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said earlier, the Xiamen incident is an eye opener—a reminder for us to revisit the Air Passengers Bill of Rights (APBR), review the intervention protocols between the airlines and the airport authorities, recast our equipment inventory, enhance the training modules we do at the airport in cases of emergencies.

This is likewise a sign that we are correct in  aggressively pushing for the implementation of the DOTr aviation roadmap, which can be summarized into the following:

1. Improve the facilities and structures of existing gateways, such as in NAIA Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4;

2. Construct/establish other primary gateways (e.g. Bulacan and Sangley), which is now being prioritized;

3. Develop/improve/construct various regional/provincial airports (e.g. have all commercial airports night-rated, new airports have been given a facelift such as Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Tuguegarao, San Vicente, etc.; construction of new airports such as in Panglao and Bicol are ongoing, while construction of Bukidnon Airport shall start before the end of this year); and,

4. Establish air traffic control and management systems (We have already completed the CNS/ATM facility, which added 10 more air traffic radars from the existing 3 radars we had when we assumed office)

Again, we, at the DOTr regrets, and are saddened that the incident involving Xiamen Air happened. 

The men and women of MIAA and CAAP labored hard, in “bayanihan”, to solve the problem the best they can.

Also, contrary to intrigues some people are sowing, Secretary Tugade was on top of the situation, giving instructions and initiating coordination with all concerned agencies, and monitoring updates on the incident as early as 1:00AM of August 17. 

Ang pagkakaiba lang ni Sec. Tugade sa iba, hindi sya mahilig magpakuha sa camera habang nagta-trabaho sa mga ganitong uri ng sitwasyon.

The airlines were there in unison. Others offered to help, but, unfortunately, others opted to curse, accuse and malign.

Understandably, this incident has inspired several groups and personalities to give their two cents on the current situation of the NAIA. We appreciate the suggestions and ideas, even criticisms, as they were all being offered in light of a mutual desire to improve the state of air transport in the country.

However, in the meantime, we appeal to the public, and our fellow public servants in government, as well as those from the media and private sector, to work hand in hand with us in resolving this issue. Allow us to work first so that we can address the problem entirely. Accusing, sowing intrigues and maligning our offices and officials will not help at this time.

Thank you.

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