Contributed photo

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

A plane bound for Tokyo, Japan crashed on a runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City at around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 29, 2020, killing all eight (8) of its crew and passengers.

The Lionair West Wind 24 aircraft left for Haneda International Airport at around 7:57 p.m. but crashed just a few minutes later according to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal.

The crash took the lives of six (6) of the Filipino crew and two (2) foreigners, one Canadian citizen, and one U.S. American citizen.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines confirms that the plane was used in medical evacuation missions related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and to ferry medical supplies across the country.

Monreal mentions that the same plane had been to Iloilo to deliver supplies from the Department of Health (DOH) on March 28 and returned to Manila on the same day.

CAAP Deputy Director-General Don Mendoza said that the tower at NAIA was alarmed because it took some time for the aircraft to take off despite its small size.

After the crash, Runway 06/24 was closed to traffic, and a Korean Air flight which was scheduled to land at around the same time was immediately diverted to Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Monreal said that the CAAP is currently investigating, and will inform the MIAA once the runway will be cleared to re-open.

“Nag-iimbestiga na po ang [CAAP] and dadating po ang [Scene of the Crime Operatives] maya-maya. Bibigyan po tayo ng CAAP ng go-signal once it will reopen, maybe at around 2 a.m.,” Monreal said.

It was also confirmed by Monreal that Lionair was the same operator of the plane that crashed in Calamba, Laguna on September 2, 2019, which killed nine people.

Mendoza says that they are still investigating how the crash had happened and that they are looking into grounding the Lionair fleet.

“The aircraft is airworthy and the pilots are duly licensed. We’re looking into grounding the entire Lionair fleet after this crash,” Mendoza said.