PAF insists on reliability of choppers despite Sarangani crash
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force has maintained that its UH 1D helicopters are still reliable following a chopper crash in Malapatan town, Sarangani over the weekend.
An investigation of the accident is underway to determine if the reasons for the crash was influenced by human, environmental or materiel factors.
Col. Enrico Canaya, the PAF spokesperson, declared the helicopter crash an accident, which could happen to any aircraft as he urged the public to wait for the result of their investigation.
“There is no result yet of the probe, which would identify the cause, let us wait for the investigation,” he said when asked if the accident might give credence to the supposed unreliability of the aircraft.
On Saturday, a UH 1D helicopter airlifting wounded soldiers crash-landed in Sarangani, injuring all nine personnel aboard. It was the first incident involving the said type of aircraft.
In July, the military conducted a flight demonstration of its recently acquired Huey helicopters to prove that these were “mission capable” in the light of allegations that these were unreliable.
Seven UH 1H helicopters and two UH 1D choppers took part in the demonstration. These were part of the P1.2-billion chopper deal with an American firm, which the Department of National Defense later partially terminated for failure to deliver the units on time.
Before the partial termination of the 21-chopper deal with the Rice Aircraft Services, an American firm, a newspaper report claimed that the aircraft were “defective.”
The purchase of the 21 helicopters were supposed to boost the capability of the Philippine Air Force.
Canaya said there had been accidents in mountaineous areas where the wind conditions caused helicopters to crash.
Despite Saturday’s accident, the UH 1D choppers are reliable particularly in combat missions and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, according to Canaya.
The UH 1D’s seatbelt featured a four point harness, which extends to the shoulder.
The PAF’s UH 1D were deployed for relief operations during last month’s typhoon “Lando,” which slammed into northern Luzon.
“It has been in Mindanao for combat missions, so the performance of the UH 1D has been good… That’s why we have confidence in using the UH 1D,” Canaya said.
So far, there is no decision to ground the choppers, which are also used for transporting VIPs and in inspecting troops.
Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said the investigation would determine if the cause of the crash was caused by human, environmental or materiel factors.
He noted that strong winds were prevailing in the area when helicopter crashed.
The military spokesperson added that allegations of the UH 1D’s unreliability were speculative and unfair.
“The investigation body has been formed and will be conducting their work, and it’s unfair to make a judgement until such time that the investigation is conducted, done and concluded,” Padilla said. SFM
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