CAAP: Licenses of aircraft, pilot in Masbate plane crash "valid"

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general William Hotchkiss III clarified Thursday reports alleging that the Piper Seneca plane that crashed off Masbate was not cleared for chartered flight and that the pilot’s licenses were expired.

Hotchkiss said based on CAAP’s Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Reporting and Tracking System (CASORT) database, the plane boarded by the late interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo that was piloted by Captain Jessup Bahinting, has an air taxi license valid until November 14, 2012.

He added that CASORT data shows that Bahinting’s flight instructor and commercial pilot licenses, which were both issued on April 30, 2012, is valid until March 2013, and with rating to fly airplane with single and multiple engine.

“It was inopportune that some personnel in CAAP not cleared administratively to issue official statements are circulating pure and baseless speculations,” Hotchkiss said.

He added that the CAAP personnel disseminating false report is now the subject of an administrative action filed by the Authority.

Based on CASORT, Aviatour Air’s Flying School also only expired yesterday, August 29, 2012, or two weeks after the incident.

Hotchkiss also said the right engine of the plane will be examined by CAAP’s five-man Special Investigation Committee piece-by-piece.

“We are committed to conduct a thorough, comprehensive and impartial investigation of the plane incident,” Hotchkiss said. “We intend to provide accurate, validated information on the progress of the inspection based on the Committee’s findings.”

Hotchkiss appealed to the public “not to make a circus out of this incident and muddle the investigation with baseless and unwarranted speculations” as it “will not help CAAP’s impartial and transparent investigation process.”

masbate plane crash 2012

Earlier, the CAAP issued the following statement on what it calls “baseless speculations” regarding the Masbate plane crash investigation:

“It is ill-timed that alleged and unverified reports supposedly coming from Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) personnel are being circulated in the media to muddle the systematic inquiry process of the Special Investigation Committee to get into the bottom of the real cause of the tragic Masbate plane crash.

The high admiration and respect of millions of Filipinos to the late DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Sec. Jesse Robredo should be taken into account before the investigation is muddled by baseless and unwarranted speculations. This will not help CAAP’s impartial and transparent investigation process.

Let’s not make a circus out of this tragic event that ignited the hearts and mind of Filipinos of what a true and honest public servant is all about. Sec. Robredo is a symbol of a man of integrity, nationalist, and a patriot.

If there are some sources in CAAP whose objective is to destroy the credibility and capability of this agency, we appeal not to use this tragic incident. This is not the time to be “popular” at the expense of the grieving family of the late Secretary.”