CA clears inspector who evaluated pilot in Robredo crash
MANILA, Philippines – The examiner who assessed the proficiency of the pilot in the ill-fated flight that killed former interior secretary Jesse Robredo 4 years ago has been cleared of any liability by the Court of Appeals (CA).
The CA upheld the dismissal of both administrative and criminal complaints against Nomer Christopher Lazaro of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), issued by the Office of the Ombudsman, who is accused of submitting fraudulent documents in the renewal of the license of the pilot involved in the crash.
The CAAP, in its case, said Lazaro, in his job as flight operations control inspector, submitted fraudulent documents to show that Captain Jessup Bahinting was trained to handle aircraft in case of an emergency situation where one engine is non-operational.
Bahinting was the pilot of the plane carrying Robredo when it crashed in the waters off Masbate on August 18, 2012, killing them both. Also killed was co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, while Robredo's assistant June Abrazado survived the accident.
One of the engines of the Piper Seneca plane broke down during the accident, and the CAAP said Bahinting's lack of training and experience in dealing with the situation caused the fatal crash.
The Ombudsman, in its earlier decision, said that it was enough for the pilot to learn emergency procedures through flight simulation. The Ombudsman also ruled that Lazaro was able to prove that Bahinting underwent training for the situation through flight simulation.
The CA upheld this, saying the CAAP was not able to state any rule that required the pilot to learn it using an actual aircraft.
"From the foregoing, it is apparent that what the CAAP Regulations require is merely to conduct a simulated one engine inoperative emergency procedure. It does not mandatorily require the pilot examiner to perform an actual engine stoppage or to inoperate any engine while in actual flight as a pre-requisite in the renewal of pilot license," the ruling read.
In addition, the CA said civil aviation regulations showed the submission of a flight plan is the duty of the pilot-in-command, not the inspector.
"In this case, no substantial evidence exists to prove the disposition of private respondent to lie, cheat, or defraud," the ruling added.
The decision was written by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, with Associate Justices Ramon Garcia and Leoncia Dimagiba concurring. – Rappler.com