March 30 ------ A plane crashed and caught fire at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday night, killing all eight people onboard. MIAA said the accident happened at the end of Runway 06/24 around 8 p.m. involving a West Wind 24 aircraft operated by Lionair Inc. on a medEvac mission to Haneda, Japan. The casualties included one American, one Canadian, and six Filipinos, MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said in a news conference a couple of hours after the accident.
The plane "reportedly encountered a technical problem," the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said in a statement. CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Capt. Donald Mendoza said that Manila tower already expressed alarm at the inability of the airplane to take flight considering its size. He said that the aircraft was airworthy and the pilots' licenses was valid. A day before the accident, the plane flew to Iloilo for delivery of medical supplies.
Authorities declared fire out about an hour after the incident. The runway has been temporarily closed. Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) chief investigator Rainier Baculinao has been dispatched to investigate the cause of the accident. MIAA said the plane was carrying two passengers and six crew members. Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, initially said on Twitter there were eight passengers on board: a flight medic, nurse, doctor, three flight crew, one patient and its companion.
A source told Stand For Truth reporter Shai Lagarde that the plane was supposed to be delivering medical supplies. Meanwhile, aviation authorities were looking to ground Lionair Inc.'s entire fleet given that the Sunday night plane fire took place a little less than seven months after another Lionair medevac flight crashed in Calamba, Laguna. "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," Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director-General for Operations Captain Don Mendoza said in a press conference.