By Benjie Lim Vergara
THE Civil Aviation Authorities of the Philippines on Monday cleared the Xiamen Airline pilots of the crashed Boeing B737-800 of drug use after their drug test came out negative.
According to the CAAP, the drug testing is a standard requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
“The results of the drug tests were negative. We still await the result of the alcohol tests because it would take a long process. But we expect to the results today. As we speak, there is an on-going investigation and interview with the pilots and the cabin crew,” CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco said.
“The pilot in command or the captain is a Korean male, who is 50 years old and has a grand total time of 16,000 flying hours with 7,000 hours on the Boeing B737-800 aircraft type. The First Officer or the co-pilot is a Chinese male, 28 years old, with a grand total time of 950 flying hours and 750 hours on the Boeing B737-800 aircraft type,” he added.
The pilots sustained no injuries; however, both were required to undergo post flight accident medical examination by the CAAP.
Sydiongco said the two pilots were summoned on Monday by the aviation regulator to explain their side, and had told them to what actually happened after the aircraft landed in heavy downpour. He, however, did not elaborate further.
Xiamen Air flight MF8667 suffered runway excursion before midnight on Thursday and caused thousands of passengers stranded at the NAIA after the incident because of cancellation, diversion of flights, and delays.
Runway excursion is the aviation term for aircraft that skidded off the runway.
The incident also blocked larger aircraft like Boeing B747, B787, Airbus A330, A340, as well as A350.
The CAAP, he said, is closely working together with Manila International Airport authority (MIAA), the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the airline operators in creating proactive measures in order to prevent an event like this from happening.
Sydiongco also said that they are still waiting for the result of the examination of the flight recorder which will be brought to Singapore.
“The result will take a week,” he said.
In another development, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said that Xiamen Air officials has agreed to spend over a million peso for the cost of food and water for passengers stranded at the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“We suggested it and they agree that they will do it immediately,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said after his meeting with Xiamen Air officials.
Monreal urged Xiamen Air officials to show compassion with the passengers affected by the incident – not in the form of monetary compensation but token like food and water and other that they (airline) can provide. He added they advised the airline officials to coordinate with the ground handling agents to carry it out.
Monreal also disclosed that Xiamen Air staff has also apologized for the inconvenience that the incident has caused.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at the NAIA after the incident because of cancellation, diversion of flights and delays after a Chinese aircraft suffered runway excursion before midnight on Thursday.
He also said that Xiamen Air, who made their public apology through its social media, will be fined for the damaged done by its plane.
When asked why it took 36 hours before the aircraft was extricated from the mud, he replied that there is a difficulty on extracting an airplane involved in an incident such as Xiamen Air because of some factors: remaining fuel on the plane tank, weather – heavy rains, thunderstorms and mud.
The danger is, he said, that one spark on the fuel tank could lead to disaster.
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