A medical evacuation (medvac) plane carrying eight persons crashed during takeoff at about 8 p.m. on Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) killing everyone on board.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) officials said the passengers and crew of the West Wind 24 aircraft operated by Lionair, Inc. perished at the end of NAIA Runway 6/ 24.
The flight RP-C5880 bound for Haneda, Japan, was carrying two pilots, one crew, one nurse, one flight medical crew, one doctor, one patient and the patient’s assistant. Sources said the patient was a 63-year-old Canadian accompanied by a Filipino-American.
The MIAA Fire and Rescue team declared fire out at 9:02 p.m.
The runway was temporarily closed as of posting time as the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was processing the crash site.
The aircraft was reportedly one of the planes being used by the Department of Health (DoH) to pick up and deliver medical supplies all over the country. It was on a medvac mission, however, when it crashed.
MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said in a press conference that there was no indication at the time that the medvac was COVID-19 related.
Monreal confirmed that Lionair, Inc. was also the operator of another medvac plane that crashed in September last year in Laguna.
Among the eight aboard were two foreign nationals, one Canadian and one American. The identities were not revealed by MIAA pending notification of their next of kin.
CAAP Deputy Director-General for Operations Capt. Don Mendoza said they may consider grounding the entire fleet of Lionair. “Right now, the initial step that we are looking into is grounding the whole fleet. It’s quite alarming, but we are looking into the records deeply,” he said.
“Whether the aircraft is airworthy, it is. The licenses of the pilots are fine, and it’s a West Wind aircraft. It’s a corporate jet performing a major route from Manila to Haneda supposedly,” Mendoza said in the media briefing.
On Saturday, the plane delivered medical supplies to Iloilo “and they went back to Manila safely,” added the CAAP official.
Monreal said there was minimal damage to the runway which will be reopened on or about two hours past midnight after the debris had been cleared and the go-signal given by the CAAP.
Only one flight was affected Sunday, a Korean Airlines flight (KE623) that was diverted to Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The MIAA chief said only seven outbound and inbound flights are scheduled for Monday.
The plane lined up for takeoff along Runway 24 of the NAIA at 7:57 p.m. Just before taking off, the business jet suddenly burst into flames and reportedly stopped just meters before the end of the runway.
Another Lionair medvac plane, a Beechcraft King Air (RP-C2296) crashed in Laguna on 1 September last year, killing all nine on board. The plane came from Dipolog Airport and was bound for Manila to bring a patient to a hospital when it crashed.