6 killed in Pampanga PAF helicopter crash

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Three pilots and three crewmembers of a newly acquired Black Hawk helicopter of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) died when it crashed during a night proficiency training in Pampanga on Wednesday.

The PAF has yet to identify the fatalities. It said no survivors were found during search, retrieval and recovery operations, which were ongoing as of yesterday afternoon.

PAF public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said the accident occurred a few miles from the Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas.

Search operations were conducted after the S-701i Black Hawk utility helicopter of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing was late in its estimated time of return at Clark Air Base.

“Although with inherent risks, this competency is vital and necessary for the transport and logistics requirements of unified commands,” Mariano said, referring to night proficiency training.

“We grieve for the loss. The PAF will conduct a thorough inquiry to determine the circumstances of this unfortunate incident,” he added.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said night proficiency training is aimed at improving the capability of pilots and crew prior to their deployment to assist frontline units in their missions.

Sobejana and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed sympathy to the families of the victims.

Lorenzana ordered the grounding of the entire Black Hawk fleet pending investigation of the accident.

Eleven Black Hawk helicopters acquired from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze were recently delivered to the country.

The government ordered 16 helicopters with a contract price of $241 million through a government-to-government transaction. – Ric Sapnu, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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