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PAF choppers grounded after crash that killed 3

All 11 UH-ID combat helicopters have been grounded while authorities determine what caused the crash that killed three Air Force (PAF) officers Thursday in Tanay, Rizal.

Personnel from the 505th Search and Rescue group have been deployed by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina to make an initial assessment.

“The helicopters are currently grounded as part of the standard operating procedure. The helicopters will undergo inspection, especially the engine, electricals, that will be the initial. If the helicopters are okay, the grounding will be lifted,” said PAF spokesman Col. Antonio Francisco.

“We are waiting for the result of the investigatIon and the recommendations of the investigating team,” he added.

Francisco identified the fatalities as Capt. Christian Paul T. Litan, the 30-year-old pilot from Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas and crew men Staff Sergeant Byron T. Tolosa, PAF, 38, from Barangay Villamor, Pasay City, and Airman First Class Joseph C. de Leon, PAF, gunner, 30, from Lingayen, Pangasinan.

The 27-year-old co-pilot, 1st Lieutenant Ceazar M. Rimas, PAF, from General Trias City, Cavite, survived the crash and was in stable condition.

“But as of this time, hindi siya makausap because he was traumatized as a result of the incident,” Francisco said. “Further, he will undergo procedure due to the injuries he sustained.”

The ill-fated chopper was one of 13 UH-1D helicopters purchased from Rice Aircraft Services Inc. in 2014.

In 2015, a UH-ID combat helicopter crash landed in Malapatan, Sarangani after encountering strong winds while on casualty-evacuation mission.

The “D” designation in the UH-1 chopper means that it was manufactured by Dornier, a German aircraft manufacturer which started construction of the UH-1 during 1967 to 1981.

Francisco said the investigation will determine if the crash was due to human error or mechanical or electrical failure.

The crash took place at 2:56 p.m. in Sitio Hilltop, Barangay Sampaloc, according to Francisco.

The pilot and crew of the ill-fated helicopter had concluded a training on Air to Ground and Disaster Rescue Operation at Camp Capinpin in Tanay. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)

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