Exactly twenty years ago today, on November 11, 2002, Laoag International Airlines Flight 585 crashed into Manila Bay shortly after takeoff from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), killing 19 of the 34 passengers and crew.
The aircraft involved in the incident was a 24-year-old Fokker F-27 Friendship 600 registered RP-C6888. Laoag International Airlines Flight 585 was a regularly scheduled domestic flight between Manila-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in the nation’s capital and Basco Airport (BSO) with a stop in Laoag Airport (LAO).
Image: GC Maps
The plane suffered engine problems shortly after takeoff
Laoag Flight 585 took off from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) Runway 31 just after 06:00 in the morning for the 254-mile flight north to Laoag Airport (LAO). Shortly after takeoff, the pilots experienced problems with the plane’s left Rolls-Royce turboprop Dart engine. The crew declared an emergency and immediately decided to return to Manila Airport. Realizing they would not make it, they had no option other than ditching in the sea.
As the aircraft hit the water, it broke up and sank. Local fishermen and the Philippine Coast Guard rushed to the scene, but it was too late to rescue all the passengers and crew. The captain and co-pilot survived, but one of the plane’s three flight attendants and 18 passengers died.
The investigation into the crash of Laoag International Airlines Flight 585
Initially, the airline’s owners blamed sabotage for the crash but almost immediately retracted the acquisition. A month later, Philippine immigration authorities arrested the airline’s chief mechanic and accused him of working without the correct permit. During the investigation, it was also discovered that the plane’s captain may have submitted fraudulent papers attesting to his training.
In September 1999, he submitted documents to the Air Transportation Office stating that he had completed a King Air B200 Recurrent training course at FlightSafety International in Long Beach, California. According to the school, the Filipino pilot had never attended the course.
In its final report into the crash issued on January 10, 2003, the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) concluded that pilot error was to blame. Captain Bernie Crisostomo and First Officer Joseph Gardiner failed to notice that the fuel valves were closed. Five months after the completion of the investigation, a special committee of the Senate began proceedings to revoke Laoag International Airline’s operator’s license.
About the Fokker F-27 Friendship
The concept of the Fokker F-27 was for an aircraft to replace WWII Douglas DC-3s on short and medium-haul routes. The F-27s main selling point was its new Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines. Other improvements on the DC-3 included a pressurized cabin. The Dutch-built Fokker F-27 made its maiden flight on November 24, 1955, and entered commercial service three years later. Almost immediately, the plane proved to be a commercial success and was manufactured under license in the United States by Fairchild. During its production run from 1955 until 1987, 586 units of the Fokker F-27 Friendship were manufactured in the Netherlands and the United States.