CAAP starts probe on Masbate plane crash

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Recovered wreckage of RP-C4431, a portion of the Piper Seneca that crashed with Sec. Robredo, 3 others onboard. Photo courtesy of PTV
Recovered wreckage of RP-C4431, a portion of the Piper Seneca that crashed with Sec. Robredo, 3 others onboard. Photo courtesy of PTV

LEGAZPI CITY (27-Aug-2012/PNA) – Experts from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are now in Masbate City conducting an investigation on the plane crash involving a Piper Seneca private aircraft that killed Sec. Jesse Robredo and its two pilots last Aug. 18.

The group headed by aviation industry expert Capt. Amado Soliman belongs to the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board, according to a statement from the office of CAAP director William Hotchkiss.

Soliman’s panel, Hotchkiss said,is now scrutinizing every detail that could be gathered from the wreckage of the ill-fated six-seater twin-engine aircraft owned by the Aviatour Flight School based in Cebu.

The plane piloted by veteran pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinding and Nepalese student-pilot Kshitiz Chand was supposed to take Robredo home to Naga City when it reportedly developed an engine trouble minutes after take-off from the Mactan International Airport in Cebu and plunged into the sea off Masbate City.

The badly damaged body of the plane whose wreckage was retrieved by divers from the ocean floor with sea depth of 180 feet three days after the incident is now under safekeeping by the CAAP at the Moises Espinosa Memorial Domestic Airport in Masbate City.

The investigators hope to determine what triggered the plane crash by going over every detail of its flight, aircraft condition and air worthiness, Hotchkiss said.

Earlier, Sec. Mar Roxas of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has said Pres. Aquino has ordered a thorough investigation of the incident to find out if it was human error or technical problem that caused the incident which resulted to the loss of one of the most respected and admired members of his Cabinet.

Robredo’s body now lies in state at the Naga Cathedral awaiting cremation and burial set on Tuesday.

It was flown back to the city Sunday morning following a two-day wake at the Kalayaan Hall in Malacañang where Robredo’s remains were accorded a state funeral including a 19-gun salute.(PNA)

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