Palace calls for stricter safety measures for aircraft after Lionair crash incident in NAIA, as entire fleet of charter company ordered grounded

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Malacañang has called on Monday for stricter security and safety measures for aircraft after a medical evacuation plane caught fire and crashed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday night.

The Lionair-operated Westwind aircraft was bound Sunday for Haneda Airport in Japan, on a medical evacuation mission carrying eight passengers and crew when it caught fire upon takeoff and crashed at the NAIA, leaving all eight people dead.

The identities of the victims have not been officially released by authorities.

Meanwhile, the entire fleet of Lionair,  a charter airline and a general aviation company operating in the Philippines, has been ordered grounded pending investigation.

“There must be a thorough investigation of the incident and the concerned government agencies must undertake measures to secure the safety of private aircrafts as well as their passengers and crew,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday said investigation into the incident might take up to a year as authorities need to examine the wreckage, interview witnesses on the ground, and get the aircraft’s service record.

Panelo extended the Palace’s sympathies to the families of those who died in the incident.

“We are so sad to learn that a plane crashed last night taking the lives of the 8 persons on board,” he said.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the grieving families of those who perished in the crash,”  said Panelo.

The entire fleet of Lionair Inc. has been grounded pending further investigation on the accident involving one of its aircraft over the weekend, the CAAP said on Monday.

The CAAP said the Lionair fleet has been grounded after the accident on Sunday where one of its aircraft caught fire at NAIA late Sunday evening, killing all eight passengers and crew of a medical evacuation flight bound for Haneda in Japan.

The report indicated that the cockpit data recorder has already been retrieved and will most likely be sent overseas to be decoded, while authorities are still searching for the flight data recorder and the last communication made by the aircraft to the control tower.

Investigation on the accident is estimated to take any time from six months to a year.

Initial reports from the CAAP indicate that the aircraft encountered technical problems while rolling for takeoff on Runway 06.

Runway 06/24 was reopened at 5:04 a.m.  on Monday, March 30.

Seven months earlier, a Lionair plane crashed in Calamba City in September 2019, killing at least nine individuals. /Stacy Ang

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