Date: April 19th, 2000
Operator: Air Philippines
Where: Davao, Philippines
Report Date: -
This is not an accident investigation report.
All 131 passengers and crew aboard an Air Philippines jet were killed when it crashed in the southern Philippines, officials confirmed. It's believed to be the country's worst air disaster.
Recovery workers are searching for the plane's flight data recorders, according to Philippines Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado. Recovery operations were more difficult because of the mountainous terrain.
Mercado said there were no survivors. The airline also confirmed that no one survived. The 131 aboard included 124 passengers -- including four babies -- six crew members and one mechanic.
Flight No.541 had earlier circled Davao airport while waiting for a runway to be cleared of another aircraft, air traffic controllers said.
Investigators probe weather conditions
Just before the crash, officials say the pilot contacted the control tower and reported visibility problems, CNN reported. Mercado said authorities are trying to determine weather conditions at the time of the crash, including the amount of cloud cover.
Controllers said the Davao airport does not have equipment for instrument landings.
The air force and rescue officials were alerted after the pilot's communication. The plane crashed into a coconut grove on the mountainous Samal Island while preparing to make another approach, the controllers said. Wreckage of the plane was sighted at about 7.25 a.m., a recovery official told Reuters.
Smoke from the crash was visible in Davao, a commercial center.
The plane was destroyed except for a small part of its tail section.
Investigators are searching for clues as to why a Philippines airliner crashed on a southern resort island, killing all 131 people on board.
Flight GAP 541
22-year-old Boeing 737-200 Passed all safety checks Veteran pilot at controls
In the country's worst air disaster, the Air Philippines Boeing 737-200 was preparing to land at Davao airport when it came down in a coconut plantation in the hills of nearby Samal island.
Air Transportation Office chief Jacinto Ortega said the weather could have been a contributing factor - it was possible the pilots were flying either in or out of low-lying clouds.
Rescuers had recovered the cockpit flight recorder, but had been unable to retrieve the flight data recorder from the still-smouldering wreckage of the plane.
Rescuers hunt for bodies in the wreckage
"There was no mention of any mechanical problems," Mr Ortega said.
Investigators had found no evidence that the rudder problem that has troubled similar aircraft was a factor in the crash.
There was no need to ground the airline's remaining fleet of nine Boeing 737-200s and two leased MD11s, he said.
The crash happened just two days after a Federal Aviation Administration panel recommended that Boeing redesign the rudder assembly on all models of the 737, the most widely used passenger jet in the world.
Air traffic controllers said the plane aborted its first landing attempt because another plane was on the runway, and crashed as it prepared to make another approach from the opposite direction.
Mr Ortega dismissed speculation that the aircraft blocking the runway was a contributing factor: "I don't think it's connected".
Philippines President, Joseph Estrada, ordered Transportation Secretary Vicente Rivera to oversee the recovery of the victims' bodies and to investigate the cause of the accident.
At Davao Airport, relatives cried and hugged each other as Red Cross personnel tried to comfort them.
Teddy Villanueva's wife and daughter were on the plane
Flight GAP 541 had been carrying 124 passengers - including four babies - six crew and one mechanic when it crashed, leaving no survivors.
The Australian Embassy said the victims included a 35-year-old Australian man, his two-year-old daughter and Filipino wife, all residents of Manila.
There were no immediate reports of other foreigners on board.
An airline official said the plane, manufactured 22 years ago, had been given its normal maintenance check before taking off, and no abnormalities were found.