Xiamen Airlines plane skids off rain-slick NAIA runway
Thousands of passengers were stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday after flights were cancelled when a Xiamen Airlines plane crash-landed Thursday night.
Rudy Santos

Xiamen Airlines plane skids off rain-slick NAIA runway

Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A plane from China landing on a rain-soaked runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in poor visibility veered off in a muddy field, officials said yesterday.

One engine and a wheel were ripped off but no serious injuries were reported among the 165 people aboard who scrambled out through an emergency slide.

Only four passengers sustained scratches and all the rest, including eight crew aboard Xiamen Air Flight 8667, were safe and taken to an airport terminal, where they were given blankets and food before going to a hotel, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal told a news conference.

The Boeing 737-800 from China’s coastal city of Xiamen at first failed to land apparently due to poor visibility that may have hindered the pilots’ view of the runway, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general Jim Sydiongco told reporters.

The plane circled before landing on its second attempt near midnight but lost contact with the airport tower, Sydiongco said.

The aircraft appeared to have “bounced” in a hard landing then veered off the runway and rolled toward a rain-soaked grassy area with its lights off, CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said, citing an initial report about the incident.

A Chinese passenger, Wang Xun Qun, who was traveling with her daughter, said in halting English that they embraced each other and were “very scared” before the aircraft landed in a rainstorm. She motioned with her finger how their plane circled for about an hour before the pilots attempted to land.

“Half lucky,” the 15-year-old daughter said when asked to describe their experience. “Scary, scary.”

Investigators retrieved the plane’s flight recorder and will get the cockpit voice recorder once the aircraft has been lifted to determine the cause of the accident, Sydiongco said.

NAIA, Manila’s main international gateway, was closed most of yesterday while emergency crews remove excess fuel then try to lift the aircraft, its belly resting on the muddy ground, away from the main runway, which was being cleared of debris, officials said. A smaller runway for domestic flights remained open.

Airport officials said the NAIA will remain closed until 5 a.m. today.

A Xiamen Air representative, Lin Hua Gun, said the airline will send another plane to Manila to resume the flight. The Civil Aviation of China said it was sending a team to assist in the investigation.

Several international and domestic flights have been cancelled or diverted due to the closure of the airport.

Hundreds of stranded passengers jammed one of three airport terminals due to flight cancellations and diversions. Dozens of international flights were cancelled or either returned or were diverted elsewhere in the region, officials said. – AP

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