CAAP opens Caticlan for two way traffic

As LET 410 skids again at runway

June 9, 2010

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) re-opened Caticlan airport for two way traffic Monday after improvements were made extending its runway length and constructing larger overrun areas for large turboprop planes.

"Large prop aircraft can now land on and take off from either end of the Caticlan airport's runway" says Alfonso Cusi, CAAP Director General.

Cusi however admitted that the short runway at Caticlan still poses a serious safety concern, particularly during the rainy season as wet runway could potentially cause hydroplaning on landing preventing the aircraft 's brake from working as it tend to float the wheel on landing.

It took the aviation body 15 months to remedy the problem at the Philippines busiest rural airport. The Airport records the highest number of landing and takeoff among secondary airports in the country, reaching a peak of 130 a day, or 65 landings and 65 takeoffs, according to Director Willy Borja, the chief of the Air Traffic Services Division.

CAAP earlier designated Caticlan as a one-way airport after a Zest Air MA-60 flight overshot the runway last year. The order essentially restricted the airports operation to smaller aircraft such as the 14 seater LET-410 of Seair.

The CAAP restriction resulted in airlines like PAL Express, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air which utilized Q300, ATR 72 and MA-60 aircraft that can accommodate at least 50 passengers to use the facilities of nearby Kalibo airport who had passengers with original bookings for Caticlan.

The re-opening however was not without incident as the Seair LET plane skidded off the Caticlan runway Monday morning, prompting a half-day closure of the provincial airport.

No one was reported injured. Fifteen other flights had to be directed to the Kalibo airport while the stuck plane was being towed to the tarmac.

Cebu Pacific, which flies 13 flights daily to Caticlan from Manila and 11 weekly flights to Cebu using ATR 72-500 aircraft, welcomed CAAP move, saying it would spur business and employment in the region.

"We are delighted that as a result of our re-certification, CAAP has authorized Cebu Pacific to take-off and land in both directions for Caticlan," said Candice Iyog, vice president of Cebu Pacific.

"[This] should make flying to Boracay more convenient for our passengers. However, flights may still be diverted to Kalibo if the runway is wet," Iyog added.

Meanwhile, two of the 10 planes owned by South East Asia Airlines (Seair) have been permanently grounded by aviation officials as it was not fit for commercial aviation.

Alfonso Cusi said that one of the planes, the three-engine Dornier DO-24 ATT, was built in the 1930s and should never have been given a certification to fly, even after it had been restored.

The second aircraft, a Dornier 328, which Seair uses extensively to transport tourists from Manila to Boracay and Palawan, was a prototype aircraft that was not intended for regular flight operation, Cusi adds.


  1. Caticlan/Boracay airport is a DISASTER just waiting to happen. One of these days a large plane landing at 200 kilometers per hour or more is going to smash into a bus or truck as it comes in very low over the road that crosses very near the end of the runway.

    Most flights approach the runway from the sea as they come in to land. The end of that runway is dangerously near the main road of Caticlan. Large planes must fly VERY LOW over that road in order to take advantage of the full runway length so they can stop safely. I have often seen them crossing over that road no more than 2 meters (6 feet) off the surface.

    One plane nearly hit my car. Had it been a taller bus or truck instead of my low car, the plane would have smashed into it and crashed.

    I have begged the airport director to do something about it but I fear nothing will be done until there is a BIG accident.

  2. Planes don't really need to go that low. Pilots are advised to cross the threshold at 20' to 30' and there is more than enough concrete for them to stop. It's just that there are some idiots who try too hard to maximize the available runway, not understanding that undershooting is a lot worse than overshooting, damage-wise.

    Pilots take too many unnecessary risks in Caticlan, like those I see who make really short approaches, turning finals too close to the runway and leveling the wings barely a hundred feet above the ground. That's disconcerting enough in a 4-seat Cessna, how much more in a 50-seat turboprop? What's wrong with doing a three-mile final, I wonder?

    You might be interested to know the pilots on this flight were taken "off-sched" (i.e. suspended) when the equipment chief pilot saw the photograph.

    They really should take down that hill. Politics and vested interests however will make sure it won't be easy.

  3. Very well said. Classified CAAP investigations at various Caticlan crashes particularly those of Zest Air disclosed pilot error and not the hill as culprit, although it was made and still is a safety issue. Weather was also dismissed considering other aircraft before it landed safely without problems. Considering terrain as a known airport attribute, the buck stop ultimately at the pilots.