ILL-FATED PLANE. A Lionair aircraft, a Westwind 1124A jet, on medical evacuation mission bound for Haneda, Japan burst into flames before taking off Sunday evening, March 29 along runway 24 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at about 7:57 p.m. According to the Manila International Airport Authority, all eight people onboard perished in the accident. | Photo courtesy NAIA Media Affairs

A medical evacuation plane caught on fire during takeoff on Sunday, March 29 at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), killing all the eight people on board.

The incident took place at the end of Runway 24 while the aircraft was taking off at around 8 p.m., according to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

The Philippine-registered Lionair Westwind was bound for Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in Japan, carrying eight people: a flight medic, nurse, doctor, three flight crew, and a Canadian patient and the patient’s American companion.

“Immediately after the incident, the MIAA Fire and Rescue team were dispatched to the site to douse the flames with chemical foam,” the airport authority said, confirming that no passengers survived the accident.

Airport authorities did not divulge the reason that prompted the medical evacuation.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) revealed that the aircraft encountered a technical problem while rolling out for takeoff.

“The medical evacuation flight, bound for Tokyo/Haneda in Japan reportedly encountered a technical problem while rolling for takeoff on Runway 06,” the CAAP said in its initial report.

CAAP Deputy Director General Don Mendoza noted that the aircraft was airworthy and the pilots’ licenses were valid.

He also said that the CAAP is considering barring Lionair’s fleet from taking off since this is the second fatal incident involving the company in nearly seven months.

Last September 2019, a Lionair plane crashed in Laguna, killing nine people aboard.

“Right now the initial step we’re looking into is grounding the whole fleet,” Mendoza said.

“It’s quite alarming but we’re looking into the records deeply… Definitely we will have a thorough investigation into this and then we will advise the operators (about) the actions and steps that will be taken,” he added.

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