Downdraft may have caused Chemtrad plane crash

Tuguegarao, Cagayan - Initial investigations from the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority disclosed that the pilot of the ill-fated islander plane may probably have committed the same mistake done by another islander pilot of Chemtrad six years ago when it crashed almost on the same area on almost the same circumstances killing all its passengers and crew on board.

In December 12, 2003, another Islander plane of the same company crashed into a hill covered by dense trees about two miles from the airstrip while negotiating a climb for Palanan, Isabela.

The Chemtrad Britten-Norman Islander plane with tail number 764, took off at the Tuguegarao Airport in Cagayan at 8:52 AM on Thursday for a 30 minute ride to Maconacon, a coastal town in Isabela Province. The province’s coastal towns are mostly isolated from the rest of Cagayan by the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. The aircraft never reached its destination.

General Aviation Pilots has been warned to revise flight plan in inclement weather and as much as possible deviate from the same air route due to reported downdraft and visibility problems over the area particularly occurring during bad weather. The flight plan from Laoag and Tuguegarao airport to Maconacon airport used the Maconacon mountain pass which is declared unsafe during bad weather as pilots negotiate the terrain with blind eyes.

A pilot from the same company who doesnt want to be named said that downdraft from the mountain seems to appear from nowhere when they try to maneuver around the mountain pass for take of and landing procedure and those are more prevalent when a raincloud is developing that also results in visibility problems around the approach area.

Downdraft was reported to be the cause of the Fedex MD-11 crash in Tokyo' Narita airport as it was negotiating to land both killing its 2 American pilot.

Philippine Air Force spokesman Maj. Gerardo Zamudio Jr., admitted that rescue teams were having some problems penetrating the crash site due to bad weather on the area. “Our choppers cannot break though the area due to low and heavy clouds," said Zamudio.

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