Licenses of Piper Seneca plane, pilot 'still valid'-A A +A
Friday, August 31, 2012
MANILA (Updated 2:35 p.m.) -- The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) disproved claims that the ill-fated plane boarded by Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was not cleared for chartered flight and that the pilot's licenses were expired.
Caap director general William Hotchkiss III said based on their Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Reporting and Tracking System (Casort) database, the Piper Seneca plane that carried Robredo and was piloted by Captain Jessup Bahinting has an air taxi license valid until November 14, 2012.
The Casort data also shows that Bahinting's flight instructor and commercial pilot licenses, which were both issued on April 30, 2012, are valid until March 2013, and with rating to fly airplane with single and multiple engine, Hotchkiss said.
"It was inopportune that some personnel in Caap not cleared administratively to issue official statements are circulating pure and baseless speculations," Hotchkiss said.
He added that the Caap personnel disseminating false report is now the subject of an administrative action.
Earlier, Cesar Lucero, special investigator 1 of Caap, reported his initial findings on the accident and claimed that Aviatour Fly'N Inc. has an expired certificate to operate the twin-engine Piper Seneca plane for training and commercial purposes.
Lucero added that Bahinting had an expired flight instructor license since April this year.
Aviatour disputed Lucero's claims and also questioned his authority to investigate the plane crash.
"If there are some sources in Caap whose objective is to destroy the credibility and capability of this agency, we appeal not to use this tragic incident," the Caap said in a statement.
"This is not the time to be 'popular' at the expense of the grieving family of the late Secretary," the agency added.
Hotchkiss said the right engine of the plane will be transferred to Manila from the Masbate airport over the weekend where it will be examined by Caap's five-man Special Investigation Committee piece by piece.
"We believe the plane engine will be key part of our investigation. This will determine if indeed it was due to technical or mechanical problem that caused it to fail," Hotchkiss said earlier this week.
The Caap recently formed the Special Investigation Committee to determine the real cause of the plane crash that killed Robredo, Bahinting, and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand.
Hotchkiss earlier issued Authority Order 223-12 forming the said committee which is composed of officials of the Philippine Air Force and of airline companies.
"The "Special Investigation Committee...representing the various sectors of the Philippine aviation is hereby constituted and tasked to pursue the investigation surrounding the accident of RP-C4431," Authority Order 223-12 read.
Hotchkiss said the agency is "committed to conduct a thorough, comprehensive and impartial investigation" of the plane crash.
"We intend to provide accurate, validated information on the progress of the inspection based on the Committee’s findings,” he said.
"We appeal not to make a circus out of this incident and muddle the investigation with baseless and unwarranted speculations. This will not help Caap's impartial and transparent investigation process," Hotchkiss concluded. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani)