Robredo plane locator failed to activate – CAAP
Hotchkiss said they are still looking for the plane's right engine

MANILA, Philippines – The emergency location transmitter (ELT) of the 6-seater Piper Seneca plane that crashed into the waters of Masbate was found in the off position “indicating that it failed to activate” upon impact, according to the initial inspection of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

ELT is a plane device that should automatically activate when a plane makes an emergency landing – or when it figures in an accident – to allow authorities to easily find it. CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III said it was functioning properly when they conducted an annual routine check on November 21, 2011.

CAAP created a 3-man Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) investigating team to probe what caused the plane crash that killed Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, pilot Capt Jessup Bahinting, and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand.

Hotchkiss said it’s not an easy investigation but they were directed by Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to get to the bottom of it.

“It is too early to speculate, our investigating team is still examining the plane wreckage to determine the cause of the accident,” Hotchkiss added after dismissing speculations that use of diluted aviation fuel may have caused the plane crash. But he said they will check the fuel used in the engine and trace where the plane last refueled.

Hotchkiss said they are still looking for the plane’s right engine. “The engine is a key part of our investigation. This will determine if indeed it was due to technical or mechanical problem that caused it to fail,” Hotchkiss said.

The AAIIB is also reconstructing the flight path of Robredo’s plane.

Ultimately, Hotchkiss said the investigation will look into the “unsafe practices of aviation firms that enable them in the past to continue operating in spite of getting involved in previous plane accidents.” –

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