MANILA – Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Lt. Col. Aristides Galang on Monday said it is still too early to presume that the crash of the UH-IH “Huey” combat utility helicopter in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon last Jan. 16 was due to engine failure or malfunction.
Galang made the statement after hearing reports claiming that the mishap which claimed the lives of five military personnel and two militiamen, including two pilots, were attributed to the engine failure.
He noted that investigation is still ongoing and there are no results yet as of this time.
“Wala pang (there are no investigation) results yet so it’s too early for us to assume or to speculate na engine po yun naging problema (that engine malfunction was the cause of the problem). It might send wrong signals sa mga tao (to the public),” Galang said in an interview with reporters.
He said the PAF investigation team is considering many factors in the accident like “environment, human, and materiel factors”.
“Marami pa po tayong ibang kino-consider kaya masyado pang maaga na sabihin na nagkaproblema sila sa makina (We are considering a lot of factors in our investigation and it is still too early to tell that they have engine trouble),” he added.
The ill-fated helicopter belonged to the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing in Cebu. Killed in the crash were Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo, pilot; 2nd Lt. Mark Anthony Caabay, co-pilot; Sgt. Mervin Bersabe; Airman 1st Class Stephen Agarrado; Sgt. Julius Salvado; Jerry Ayocdo; and Jhamel Sugalang.
Arroyo, Caabay, Bersabe and Agarrado are from the PAF while Salvado is from the Philippine Army (PA), and Ayocdo and Sugalang are members of the Army’s Cafgu Active Auxiliary.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said the PAF’s entire fleet of “Hueys” has been grounded following the crash.
“In accordance with established protocols, the PAF’s entire fleet of Hueys has been grounded and all the units will be inspected,” he added. (PNA)