Xiamen Air passenger jet skids off runway in Manila in torential rain

- A Monitor Report 18 Aug, 2018  |    -      +
Manila, Philippines : A passenger plane operated by China’s Xiamen Air veered off a rain-soaked runway after landing at Manila’s main airport in the Philippines’ capital, disrupting flight schedules on August 17 due to a temporary runway closure.

All 157 passengers and eight crew aboard Xiamen Air Flight 8667 escaped unhurt, only a few passengers sustained bruises but all those were safe and were taken to an airport terminal, where they were given blankets and food before being taken to a hotel, airport general manager Ed Monreal told a news conference.

The Boeing 737-800, managed to touch down close to midnight amid a downpour after aborting an initial attempt to land due to poor visibility, according to Philippine officials, who expressed relief that a disaster was avoided.

The airliner lost contact with the tower as it rolled off the runway into a rain-soaked field, where one of the plane's engines and wheels got ripped off before everyone onboard scrambled out through an emergency slide, the officials said.

Images of the plane operated by Xiamen Air, a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines, showed it next to an airport perimeter fence with the left wing touching the ground. The plane “misapproached” on its first attempt to land and lost contact with the control tower on the second attempt when it skidded off the runway after touching down, said Ed Monreal, the general manager at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Shaken by the experience and drenched by the downpour, the passengers and crew of Xiamen Air Flight 8667 were taken to an airport terminal, where they were given blankets and food before going to a hotel, airport general manager Ed Monreal and other officials said.

The plane “misapproached” on its first attempt to land and lost contact with the control tower on the second attempt when it skidded off the runway after touching down, said Ed Monreal, the general manager at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Investigators retrieved the plane's flight recorder and will get the cockpit voice recorder once the aircraft has been lifted to determine the cause of the accident, Sydiongco said.

TV footage showed the plane slightly tilting to the left, its left badly damaged wing touching the ground and its landing wheels not readily visible as emergency personnel examined the aircraft. One of the detached engines and landing wheels lay a few meters (yards) away.

The plane failed to land at first apparently due to poor visibility that may have hindered the pilots' view of the runway, Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Jim Sydiongco told reporters. The plane circled before finally landing near midnight but lost contact with the tower, Sydiongco said.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila's main international gateway, will be closed until Saturday morning while emergency crews use a crane to try to lift the aircraft, its belly resting on the muddy ground, away from the main runway, officials said. A smaller runway for domestic flights remained open.

Flights from the Middle East and the United States were diverted to the international airport at Clark, north of Manila, and to the central island of Cebu. The disruption caused by the accident led to chaotic scenes at Ninoy Aquino airport on Friday, as travelers waited in long queues outside the terminals and at check-in desks.

Nearly 80 international and domestic flights have been canceled or diverted due to the closure of the airport, which lies in a densely populated residential and commercial section of metropolitan Manila.

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