Probe of Black Hawk helicopter crash sought

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon is seeking a thorough investigation into an air accident involving one of the Philippine Air Force’s newly acquired S-70i Black Hawk helicopters as he called for better training and safety protocols for PAF pilots to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

Gordon said all pilots should be given the right equipment and training for the operation of military aircraft.

“It would be best to give the right support to our men in uniform. To have lost six souls during a training exercise is unfortunate. And to not have retrieved their bodies until more than 10 hours after is heartbreaking,” Gordon said.

“It is possible that these brand-new helicopters that we acquired could be faulty. These could pose a danger to our men in the air as well as to our citizens on the ground,” he said. “It’s the government’s responsibility to keep Air Force pilots safe and secure with the right vehicles, equipment and training since they willingly put their lives in danger in the field.”

The Black Hawk was on a night flying training mission in Tarlac with six airmen on board when it figured in the accident on June 23.

The incident was discovered at 6:30 a.m. the following day.

The Black Hawk helicopters were procured from Poland last year.

These were manufactured by Poland’s PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the original maker of the Black Hawk.

Sixteen helicopters were acquired by the Philippines from the Polish government under a $241-million contract as part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Six helicopters were delivered in 2020 and the next five units were delivered just this month.

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