CAAP inspector axed over Robredo plane crash

Posted on November 15, 2012

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MANILA—The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has suspended the airworthiness inspector who cleared the plane that flew Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to his death last August.

CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III ordered a 90-day preventive suspension of Fernando Abalos while he and other CAAP personnel undergo an investigation, CAAP deputy director general John Andrews said.

In the suspension order, Andrews said Abalos’ actions “could constitute gross dishonesty and grave misconduct that may warrant removal from government service.”

Andrews said the preventive suspension order was “not a penalty but is a cautionary measure so that the government official involved may not be able to influence witnesses or to tamper with the records.”

The special committee that investigated the Robredo plane crash faulted Abalos for allegedly approving the test flight permit for the renewal of the airworthiness certificate for the plane on Jan. 2, 2012.

However, the committee found out that there was no record in the aircraft logbook of the test flight. Moreover, the Mactan airport log also did not show any flight plan for the plane filed on that day.

The committee contented that the pilot, AviaTour Inc. owner Capt. Jesus Bahinting, “connived” with Abalos to expedite the processing and approval of the certificate of airworthiness.

Abalos allegedly endorsed the application for airworthiness certificate renewal, and an entry in the CAAP database showed the documents for such a renewal had been reviewed by Abalos. The certificate was released to AviaTour on Feb. 7 but this was predated to Jan. 7, the committee said.

In a television interview, Andrews said the CAAP will be conducting its own investigation for the possible filing of administrative and criminal cases against those who may be answerable for the crash. The CAAP will be focusing on the airworthiness department, which is under the agency’s flight standard and inspectorate service. /INQUIRER

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