8 perish as Tokyo-bound plane catches fire at NAIA

8 perish as Tokyo-bound plane catches fire at NAIA
The plane was reportedly an ambulance aircraft carrying medical supplies.
Photo courtesy of Capt. Rollie Ching via The STAR / Paolo Romero

MANILA, Philippines (Update 3: March 30, 2020, 11:54 a.m.) — An aircraft caught on fire at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late Sunday as it was about to take off, killing eight people, the Manila International Airport Authority confirmed.

According to a source, Lionair RPC5880 had eight people on board: Six Filipino crew members and two passengers. The passengers were a Canadian and an American.

The aircraft—according to its registration number, an IAI 1124A Westwind II—was headed to Tokyo International Airport on a medevac flight. 

The MIAA, in an advisory to reporters, has confirmed the accident, which it said happened at the end of the airport's Runway 24. 

"Immediately after the incident, the MIAA Fire and Rescue team were dispatched to the site to douse the flames with chemical foam," MIAA said in its advisory.

"Unfortunately, no passenger survived the accident." 

Lionair fleet grounded

At a press conference on Sunday night, Donald Mendoza, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said authorities are considering barring Lionair’s fleet from taking off after the fatal crash.

To note, Philippine based-Lionair is a different company from Indonesian airline Lion Air. 

According to the Lionair website, its Westwind II can accommodate seven passengers in executive seats. It can also be configured as an air ambulance, with space for a patient, two or three members of a medical team, and one or two relatives.

This is the second deadly accident involving the company’s aircraft in seven months. In September last year, a Lionair plane crashed in Laguna, killing nine people aboard.

“Right now the initial step we’re looking into is grounding the whole fleet,” Mendoza told reporters.

“It’s quite alarming but we’re looking into the records deeply... Definitely we will have a thorough investigation into this and then we will advise the operators (about) the actions and steps that will be taken,” he added. — with Ian Nicolas Cigaral



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