Xiamen Airlines accident should be wake-up call
The editorial on how dangerous the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has become, with the Xiamen Airlines plane skidding off the runway, was spot on (“Time to retire Naia,” 8/20/18). The incident was another close call, and if not for piloting skills, the plane could have plowed into residential areas.
This should inspire a sense of heightened urgency, but the editorial puts the delay at “bureaucratic inertia,” which sounds like a euphemism for incompetent or vacant leadership.
Can we not learn from others’ mistakes? Hong Kong airport was closed in 1998 because it simply became too hazardous to fly in among all the skyscrapers, so another airport was built, because safety was the utmost concern.
Near-misses are one of the most serious safety concerns. According to Eurocontrol, an average of two incursions take place each day at Europe’s 600 civil airports. The most serious was on Oct. 8, 2001, when an SAS MD-87 on takeoff at Linate Airport in Milan smashed into a Cessna Citation, which had encroached on the runway. It resulted in the death of 118 people.
The reasons for that disaster: a number of nonfunctioning and nonconforming safety systems, standards and procedures at the airport (e.g., bad or missing signage). It remains the deadliest civil aviation accident in Italian history.
Then there is the serious matter of pilot fatigue, resulting in a number of crashes overseas, notably the one near Buffalo, New York, where overworked pilots made a fatal error of judgment.
And who can forget the worst aviation disaster in history at Tenerife, due to heavy fog and impatience on the part of a highly experienced Dutch pilot, resulting in over 500 fatalities?
But wasn’t there also a crash of a cargo plane at Naia a few years ago with civilian fatalities in a residential area in Parañaque?
An intelligent approach would be to utilize both Sangley Point and Clark ASAP before anything more serious happens. Let’s have another Boracay decision-making process—do the right thing at the right time with the right people, before it’s too late.
That runoff at the runway should be a wake-up call.
WALTER P. KOMARNICKI, firstname.lastname@example.org
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