Rescue choppers enough amid Sikorsky helicopters’ grounding: PAF

by Philippine News Agency | September 18, 2020

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said Friday it has enough helicopters for rescue missions despite the grounding of its Sikorsky S-76A rescue helicopters following Wednesday’s crash in Basilan that killed four of its personnel.

“We still have sufficient helicopters for rescue missions. We can use our existing (Bell) UH-1, Huey II, and the (PZL) W-3 ‘Sokol’,” PAF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Aristides Galang said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday.

Galang added that all helicopters in the PAF, except those configured purely for ground attack missions like the Mcdonnell Douglas MG-520 and AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-109, can be reconfigured for search-and-rescue missions if needed.

Following the crash in Lantawan, Basilan, the PAF has ordered the immediate grounding of all its S-76A helicopters for “prompt maintenance inspection” as part of the investigations to determine the cause of the mishap.

Galang earlier said an investigation team will also be sent to the area to conduct further investigation on the accident.

He added that they will also look into environmental, material, and human factors in determining the cause of the mishap.

He added that the S-76A helicopter with tail number 202 belong to their 505th Search-and-Rescue Group and was deployed for a medical evacuation mission in Jolo and took off around 12:33 p.m.

The aircraft was based at Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.

Killed in the accident were Major Jessie Miller, the pilot-in-command, 1st Lt. Mack-Ar Ferrer, co-pilot, Staff Sgt. Miguel Bañas Jr. and Airman 2nd Class Benedicto Leal Jr. (PNA)