After Cebu Pacific Airbus A320-200 suffered a hard landing at Davao International Airport that jolted its 165 passengers coming from Manila, and overshot the runway with its nose stuck to the ground, the airline’s crew members, as well as its management, are now at the receiving end of strong criticism from the public.
It is not so much that it had inconvenienced a lot of other Davao-bound passengers on other airlines since the authorities closed the airport, but it was more about the display of unprofessional attitude by the flight crew towards its passengers, in particular, and the unfortunate incident/accident, in general.
It was bad enough that the plane overshot the runway and landed on its nose after a hard landing, but it was even worse that the pilots and the cabin crew treated the whole incident as something normal and not an emergency situation.
For an airplane to have an abnormal touchdown and, worst still, for the pilots to unable to stop the plane upon landing borders on an emergency and crisis situation that necessitates immediate freeing and saving of the passengers lives.
For sure there was pandemonium inside the plane, with people wanting to be evacuated in case something more disastrous would happen.
“Everyone panicked. Women and children were screaming,” a passenger said. Who wouldn’t with the crashing impact!
Not only was an early evacuation of the aircraft done, but there was not even an emergency or rescue units in sight.
What made the situation more pathetic inside the plane is that the pilots and the rest of the crew did not take charge and immediately showed their presence even if only to assuage the anxiety of the passengers. It would have been enough to calm them down.
Ateneo de Davao President Joel Tabora was right in lamenting that, “No instructions were given; no calming words were spoken.” The airline personnel “froze” and “did not know what to do,” he added.
That there was “insensitivity and ineptness” on the part of the airline’s personnel in crisis situation can only be too obvious from Tabora’s observation that, “It was only after 27 minutes in a smoked cabin that the passengers were allowed to leave the plane by coming down emergency slides.”
One passenger commented about how most of the passengers complained about having to walk almost a kilometer just to reach the arrival section of the airport without any personnel from Cebu Pacific offering assistance or even comfort.
Yet, Cebu Pacific President Lance Gokongwei defended the crew’s action, while apologizing at the same time for the mishap.
Apologizing, yes, but defending a blunder and lapse in judgment is simply out of place. The more the public take umbrage at such an insensible statement.
Perhaps it is time for Gokongwei to change protocol inside his aircraft when it comes to touchdown and landing abnormalities. He should adhere to what an expert has to say and be more professional when something untoward occurs.
“When an aircraft lands where it is not supposed to be, the pilot calls for an immediate evacuation and the cabin crew must immediately open the doors and put out the slides as quick as possible,” Benjamin Solis, a retired Philippine Airlines (PAL) pilot who has been helping airport authorities in Clark, India, and others meet global standards.