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Remotely operated vessel aids searchers


09:42 PM July 1st, 2013

July 1st, 2013 09:42 PM

CLARK FREEPORT—The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Monday dispatched a remotely operated vessel (ROV) to help in the search for two PAF pilots whose plane crashed off Palawan while on a night proficiency test flight on June 23.

President Benigno Aquino III, who addressed the 66th anniversary of the PAF here on Monday, assured the families of the pilots that search and retrieval operations were ongoing and that the government would extend all necessary assistance to them.

Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesperson, said the ROV, which was lent out by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., was deployed before noon and programmed to scour three areas at depths of 80 meters, 30 meters and 13 meters, based on locations transmitted by a tracking device on the OV-10 630 Bronco plane before the crash.

The ROV is operated by a team of personnel of Pilipinas Shell and the Department of Science and Technology.

Pilots still missing

The pilots, Maj. Jonathan Ybañez and Lt. Abner Trust Nacion of the 15th Strike Wing in Cavite, are still considered missing, Okol said. He described Ybañez as an “accomplished OV-10 pilot,” who was supposed to join aerobatic maneuvers here.

“We are hoping [the pilots] ejected and they are somewhere out there,” Okol said.

More plane parts are being located to help the PAF know what exactly took place before the crash.

As a standard precaution, the PAF suspended the flights of other OV-10 in its fleet due to the incident.

The search for the pilots in the islets and shorelines of Palawan was suspended after Tropical Storm “Gorio” hit the country last week, Okol said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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