October 17, 2009
Manufacture Date: 1943 as 43-48476 intended for the USAF, later converted to civilian use
Serial Number:c/n 14292; msn 25737
Operator: Victoria Asia Air Services
Time of Accident: 1230 +8GMT
Crash site: Villa Fidela Subdivision, Barangay Aldana Quezon, Las Pinas City
Casualties: Benjamin Baculpo and Benjamin Rivera, Pilots, Richard Gidaya, airport mechanic and crewmember Jaguar Juane.
Remarks: The aircraft had taken off at runway 24 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for a routine flight to Palawan when it suffered engine trouble around 1220 and declared emergency landing but failed to reach the runway on time.
By Joseph Ubalde and Mark Merueñas,
At least four people on board a DC-3 plane were burned to death when the private aircraft crashed into an "abandoned" warehouse in a residential area in Las Piñas City on Saturday noon.
Eduardo Kapunan, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said Victoria Aviation, owner of the plane, is in the business of transporting goods. The plane that crashed had body number RPC 550.
Earlier Lloyd Olipano, a concerned resident in Las Piñas, called radio dzBB on Saturday and said at least two houses were damaged when the aircraft fell.
"Ngayon lang po nangyari, kababagsak lang, nagliliyab pa. Hindi kami makalapit. (It happened just now, it just fell, it's still in flames. We can't go near it)," Olipano said.
According to him, firefighters have already rushed to the area. Olipano is pleading to authorities to shut down the electricity to prevent any fires.
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) chief Pablito Cordeta said the fire was put out at about 1:40 p.m. both by members of the BFP and airport security.
Video courtesy of GMANews.TV
Air Crash Investigation
By Vito Barcelo
Ernest Sacro, spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the ill-fated plane was the last of its kind in the country after three other DC-3s were decommissioned sometime in 2000.
“That was the last DC 3 I know still flying in the country. It was so old that its owner sold it for only P12 million,” Sacro said.
The Douglas DC-3 first flew in December 1935 with 16,079 aircraft frames built in its Santa Monica, California factory. Less than 200 airworthy frames remained in active service in 2009 mostly operating in the outskirts of Africa, South America and the United States.
Until its crash, the twin-engine plane was used for aerial spraying, freight transport and to shuttle skydivers.
Sacro said the crash not only killed the four people that were onboard but also burned the P2.5 million cash that co-pilot Jaguar Juane was carrying as down payment for the aircraft that had been sold to an unnamed Surigao del Sur businessman.
He said Juane was the younger brother of Gerry Juane, the plane’s real owner, although it was registered under Victoria Air Inc.
Ernest Sacro said that initial report points to pilot error as the likely cause of the crash as the pilot in command, Benjamin Rivera and Juane, were licensed to fly only smaller planes.
He said the Authority’s legal department was looking into filing charges against its owner after it was told the plane was not insured.
“The scrap from the plane’s wreckage would not be enough to pay for the damages it caused,” Sacro said.
The plane departed Manila for Puerto Princesa City around noon, but the pilot turned the plane back minutes later asking for clearance for an emergency landing.
“It was not in a test flight as reported earlier. It was carrying six drums of aviation fuel and was supposed to fly to Surigao after it unloaded some cargoes in Brooke’s Point in Palawan,” he said.
The flight and cargo manifest appeared to be falsified, indicating there were seven people on board but only four were actually there. Carriage of dangerous cargo was also not reported.
The plane appeared to wobble, its wings tipping up and down erratically, before it scraped the roof of several houses and hit the ground and ignited.
“The plane’s left engine conked out but the pilot could have made a safe landing if he had pushed the left button to operate the engine’s fan,” Sacro said.