PAF: Too early to say engine problem caused fatal Huey crash in Bukidnon
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said the investigation into the crash in Bukidnon province of a Huey helicopter that killed seven Air Force and Army men was still ongoing and it was too early to say what caused it.
The Huey UH-1H with tail number 517, was on its third resupply mission run for the day when it nosedived at the village of Bulonay in Impasugong town, Bukidnon province last Saturday (Jan. 16).
All those onboard—four Air Force men and three Army soldiers—were killed.
Lt. Col. Aristides Galang, PAF spokesperson, said the investigation into the crash was still ongoing.
“The investigation has no result yet so it’s too early for us to assume or speculate that it was engine problem,” he told reporters on Monday (Jan. 18).
Earlier reports quoted regional military officers as saying the helicopter engine encountered a problem shortly before the crash.
While this was being considered, Galang said the PAF was still looking at other reasons for the crash, like human error, material weakness and weather disturbance.
“It’s too early to say that the engine was the problem,” he said in Filipino.
The crash prompted the PAF to ground its entire Huey fleet, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
All Huey units will be inspected before these could be cleared to fly again.
“Our aim is to achieve zero accidents in the AFP especially in the Philippine Air Force where an accident almost always results in the death of an aircraft’s crew,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
In the meantime, other helicopters, like Bell 412 and newly-acquired Black Hawks, would fill the gap left by the grounding of the Vietnam War-era Hueys, the main workhorse of the PAF.
Saturday’s crash was the fourth involving a PAF helicopter since July 2020. In July, four Air Force men were killed after a Huey helicopter crashed in Cauayan City, Isabela province.
In September, four military men were killed after a Sikorsky S-76A crashed near Lantawan town, Basilan province due to bad weather. In November, a Huey helicopter made an emergency landing in Madalum town, Lanao del Sur province killing a passenger and injuring crewmen.