Saudi envoys join hunt for missing pilot

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Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif
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Saudi Ambassador to Manila Dr. Abdullah Al-Bussairy meets Capt. Jim Sydiongco, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to discuss search and rescue operations looking for Saudi flying student Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 June 2019

Saudi envoys join hunt for missing pilot

  • Apolonio offered an assurance that CAAP Security and Intelligence Service personnel and representatives from the Saudi embassy are working closely with Orient Aviation

MANILA: Saudi diplomats in Manila have joined Philippine authorities in planning the next phase of a search for a Saudi aviation student who went missing while on a training flight in Occidental Mindoro, about 403 km east of the country’s capital.
The Beechcraft Baron 55 (BB-55) trainer aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his Filipino teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, vanished from radar while on training flight two weeks ago.
The twin-engine BB-55 disappeared shortly after takeoff from San Jose airport at 8.13 a.m. on May 17.
Eric Apolonio, a Philippines Civil Aviation Authority spokesman, said a sonar search had covered 2,000 ha of ocean to a depth of 800 meters, but had found no sign of the missing aircraft.
“At this point, search operations are ongoing, but tomorrow we will re-assess to decide the next step,” Apolonio told Arab News.
The Saudi embassy in Manila said in a statement late on Sunday that it had sent a high-level delegation to the area to help plan the next phase of the search.
The search could be moved to areas of the island that are home to insurgents, including the New People’s Army, an armed group with links to the Philippines Communist Party.
Relatives of the missing pilot had left the area and returned to Manila because of the security situation, the embassy said.
Apolonio said the flying school operator, the Orient Aviation Corp., will decide when to end the search.
“Our (CAAP) mandate is to undertake the investigation,” he said.

BACKGROUND

The Beechcraft Baron 55 (BB-55) trainer aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his Filipino teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, vanished from radar while on training flight two weeks ago. The twin-engine BB-55 disappeared shortly after takeoff from San Jose airport at 8.13 a.m. on May 17.

Computer-generated sonar information gathered in the search has been brought to Cebu for analysis by the sonar operator, he said.
“All the images that registered during the search on their computer have been submitted for analysis. So, depending on the results, we will know the next steps by tomorrow,” said Apolonio.
“We’re still hoping that the two men will be found safe,” he said.
Apolonio offered an assurance that CAAP Security and Intelligence Service personnel and representatives from the Saudi embassy are working closely with Orient Aviation.
Saudi diplomats “have been assured that all concerned authorities are working around the clock,” he said.


GCC summit calls for greater economic integration among Gulf countries 

Updated 10 December 2019

GCC summit calls for greater economic integration among Gulf countries 

  • Heads of the delegations land in Riyadh before the 40th Supreme Council meeting gets under way
  • King Salman tells the summit that the GCC has overcome many crises in its history

RIYADH: The GCC summit called for greater regional economic integration as the meeting chaired by King Salman came to a close in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The final statement, read by GCC General Secretary Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, called for finalizing legislation for financial and monetary unity by 2025, according to the meeting's final communique.

The statement also called for boosting military and security cooperation to maintain regional security.

The 40th Supreme Council meeting was chaired by King Salman, who met the heads of each delegation as they landed.

They included the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

In his opening remarks, King Salman said the GCC had managed to overcome many crises that the region has faced.

At a preparatory meeting on Monday, Gulf foreign ministers approved the nomination of former Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf as the next secretary-general of the GCC.

His term will begin in April 2020 following the end of Al-Zayani’s term.