Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cebu Pacific Planes: Addicted to Concrete?

With their propensity to overshoot even 10,000-ft. long runways, are Cebu Pacific planes for all intents and purposes addicted to concrete? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The term “addicted to concrete” is often aimed at post World War II planes – especially jet-propelled types – that can no longer safely land on 5,000-ft. long concrete runways that became standard at the height of World War II. Should modern planes that that have a propensity to overshoot modern airport runways, especially those 10,000 feet long runways, be called addicted to concrete? Well, this actually happened back in June 2, 2013 at the Davao International Airport when a Cebu Pacific Airbus A320-200 as in Cebu Pacific Flight FJ971 overshot its assigned runway and disrupted the airport’s schedule during the first day of classes in the Philippines making 45 irate passengers sue the budget airline company not only for mental distress but also for having their travel itinerary disrupted. 

All flights out of Davao International Airport were temporarily cancelled for a few days since the Cebu Pacific Flight FJ971 mishap on 9 p.m. of June 2, 2013. Even though Col. Leopoldo Galon, chief of the military’s 5th Civil Relations Group have stated that the crew of Cebu Pacific Flight FJ971 did all that was humanly possible to avoid wallowing into the non-concrete portion of the Davao International Airport after the runway lights suddenly went out around 7:10 p.m., frequent fliers who experienced Cebu Pacific’s “amenities” have often less-than-diplomatic words to say about the budget airline company’s shortcomings. 

It wasn’t just the Cebu Pacific runway overshot incident back in 2011 when a Bombardier type twin engine prop plane plowed into the non-concrete portion of the runway of an airport in the Western Palawan province of Puerto Princesa. Frequent flying Filipino hi-fi enthusiasts who have to buy their hi-fi gear in Hong Kong or Singapore to the lack of hi-fi stores in the Philippines during the 1990s who are “unfortunate” enough to fly in a Cebu Pacific operated plane often complain of ear-ache probably due to insufficient cabin pressurization. Even though I too experience similar ear related anomalies while flying Cebu Pacific, such ear problems was inadvertently absent when I hitched on a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane bound to Manila from Cebu when I watched an Avril Lavigne concert back in March 30, 2005 or when my commandant and I flew a “loaned” F-20 Tiger Shark from Northrop to the Philippine Air force to 50,000 feet during my ROTC days. Cebu Pacific needs to reevaluate the quality of their service given that tourism in the Philippines is growing year after year. 

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