At around midnight Friday, a Xiamen Air plane veered off the runway at Ninoy Aquino causing major flight disruptions. The Xiamen Airlines 737 crash casts light on the growing precariousness of landing in heavy rain but more besides. Running at full capacity, the Philippine capital’s main airport has little room to make weather allowances. Luckily, there were no casualties.
Widespread flight disruptions occured Friday (Aug 17) after a Xiamen airlines 737 crash landing in the Philippines. The obvious cause was a rain-soaked runway, but a low visibility, night landing may have also played a role. Thankfully, out of the 157 passengers and eight crew aboard there were no casualties.
What happened – Xiamen Airlines 737 crash?
According to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) it looks worse than it is. Social media images soon surfaced of the plane lying next to a perimeter fence, its left wing touching the ground with a the slide deployed. Eric Apolonio, spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, informed journalists, the slide was only necessary because of the mud around the plane. They couldn’t bring the stairs up.
While an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident, at this time, a technical fault is not suspected to be the main cause. The plane, which was coming in from Xiamen in South China, may have misapproached the runway and taken a second shot. What’s not clear is whether the stormy conditions mean the pilot lost contact with the tower between attempts.
Eitherway, on the second attempt, under pressure, in low visibility and on a water-logged surface, the plane skidded. The airport, airline and safety team will compile a full report to work out the exact series of events.
Economic factors contribute to Xiamen Airlines 737 crash
Ninoy Aquino, often refered to as Manila International, serves as a hub for AirAsia Philippines, Cebgo, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and Philippine Airlines. The airport handled a record-breaking number of passenger last year, some 42,022,484 in all. This represents an increase of 5.96% on 2016 and this may have played a role in the accident. This kind of ramp up needs to be well managed to ensure safety remains a priority. However the airport was quick to point out it considers operational function a joint priority.
Xiamen Airlines 737 crash landing response
“Our priority now is to reopen the airport runway immediately,” General Manager, Ed Monreal said, “but we are not rushing because we value the safety and security of all the people.”
Flights from the US and the Middle East were sent to Clark Airport on Cebu last night. Departures were also affected. Long queues of frustrated passengers waited outside the terminals and snaked back from check-in desks. People were looking genuinely unimpressed as flight times came and went.
Cebu Pacific cancelled Manila-Singapore and Singapore-Manila flights and urged passengers to stay home until further notice. After the 737 crash Manila, Cebu Pacific have announced they will help travellers rebook or take up a refund. But this hasn’t helped lift the mood at the airport.
Today, the Manila Airport Authorities decided to extended the closure again until midnight. And with the monsoon season weather still pressing down on the airport today, I think this is a good call.