PAL plane landing gear gets stuck in mud before takeoff, delaying flights PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 March 2011 16:07

The landing gear of a Philippine Airlines airbus carrying about 100 people got stuck in a muddy part of the runaway shortly before takeoff at the Zamboanga International Airport. The incident injured no one but has delayed several domestic flights.

PAL Zamboanga City Manager Lorito Galarita said the left landing gear of an A320 Airbus plane accidentally veered off the runway and got stuck in a muddy field while maneuvring for takeoff from Zamboanga.

Galarita said about 100 passengers and crewmen safely disembarked from the Manila-bound plane with the help of airport emergency personnel on Wednesday. There was no major damage to the aircraft, according to airline officials.

Authorities believe the incident was caused by a pilot error.
The plane carrying 90 passengers including six councilors from Zamboanga City and from other cities and municipalities in the region was supposed to fly for Manila at 7:05 a.m. but the flight turned into a near nightmare for the passengers who were jolted by an unusual movement when it failed to make a 180 degree u-turn in preparation for takeoff.

The tensed passengers were calmed down by the plane crew and were told to step down after the pilot failed to place the aircraft into the proper position in preparation for takeoff.

After all passengers were accounted for, the plane taxied towards the west part of the runway (going to San Roque) but after reaching the end of the runway, the pilot miscalculated in trying to make a u-turn until the left landing gear went out of the asphalted runway.

The stranded passengers were fetched by airport vehicles  and were brought to the airport terminal where most of them waited for the 7:00 p.m. flight.

The incident was the first time to happen in Zamboanga Airport, according to Airport Manager Celso Bayabos.

The PAL management in Manila has grounded the pilot and his co-pilot and sent their technical people from Manila to look into the problem.

Experts from US Forces Balikatan also extended assistance for the plane to be in its proper position but unfortunately, nothing happened.

Because of the incident,  the morning flight of Cebu Pacific Airlines from Manila bound for Zamboanga has been diverted to Davao City.

The councilors on board the stranded plane were Rodolfo Lim, Myra Paz Abubakar, Eduardo Saavedra, Joanna Mas, Rey Candido and Lilia Nuño. They were scheduled to attend the three day convention of the Philippine Councilor’s League in Manila. — Jimmy Villaflores