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Sokol crash in Marawi not due to unit defect -AFP

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Air Force has ruled out material failure or aircraft defect as the cause of the helicopter crash in Marawi last month that left two persons wounded.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said investigators did not find evidence indicating that the mishap was caused by material factor.

"The continuing investigation shifted to other contributory factors that affected human intervention. The investigation is still ongoing," Canaya said in a text message.

Canaya said they are expecting another report from investigators.

"With regard to environmental factors, possibly, it might have affected human intervention. But that is not yet conclusive. It's not a definite answer to whatever cause, but one thing is for sure, it's not material factor," he said.

The Sokol helicopter crashed last August 7 a few seconds after it took off at the 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Marawi City.

The aircraft escorted another Sokol carrying Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

It was carrying 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, 4th Infantry Division Inspector-General Col. Alexander Macario, five staff members of Gazmin and four crew members, including two pilots.

Of the helicopter's 11 passengers, only the gunner, Air Force S/Sgt. Darius Valdes, was wounded during the accident. Also injured was Santiago Savedra, a civilian who happened to be in the area when the helicopter crashed.

The ill-fated helicopter is one of the eight Sokol combat utility helicopters acquired by the government from Polish form PZL-?widnik S.A. for P2.8 billion.

Canaya said the Sokol helicopters are no longer grounded after investigators had ruled out material factor as possible cause of the crash.

This means that the helicopters can now be used for disaster response and security operations.

AIR FORCE AIR FORCE S ALEXANDER MACARIO CANAYA DARIUS VALDES DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN AND INTERIOR SECRETARY MAR ROXAS ENRICO CANAYA HELICOPTER INFANTRY BRIGADE INFANTRY DIVISION
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