Pilot-Solon hits chopper crew’s inexperience

March 21, 2020 at 10:42 pm Leave a comment

                            QUESTIONED THEIR FLYING HOURS IN BELL 429

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

DAGUPAN CITY – An aircraft pilot and a congressman disputed claims that the ill-fated Bell 429 helicopter was piloted by seasoned crew.

“How can they be seasoned? The PNP just bought recently that chopper. Do they have 3,000 flying hours with the Bell 429?” Pangasinan Third District Representative Ramon “Mon-Mon” Guico III told this writer in a telephone call after he read the latter’s blog: Experts Blame Pilots on Police Chopper Crash.

Guico, a helicopter pilot, reacted to this writer’s statement quoting former Philippine National Police’s Chief Director General Ronald ”Bato” dela Rosa and PNP Directorate for Police Community Relations Chief Major General Benigno Durana that the two pilots who flew  the P435 million Bell 429 Super Ranger bought by the government in March 2018 in Canada, were experts.

“Bagong bago ito being operated by well-trained pilots ano and alam natin accidents hinde rin natin maiwasan kung minsan. They have been flying this helicopter for quite some time already,” Major General Durana told GMA-7 24 Oras News in March 6, 2020.

He added that the Bell 429 was a very reliable brand chopper.

Senator dela Rosa, who, during his stint as PNP chief the helicopter was purchased from Canada, told ABS-CBN TV that the two pilots who were lieutenant colonels were seasoned pilots.

Helicopters like those Bell UH-1 Hueys in the Philippine Air Force are operated by lieutenants and captains.

The chopper upon taking off on March 5, 2020 under cover of thick dust tripped a high tension wire with two of its two front landing skids that caused it to spin to the ground.

An eyewitness interviewed by GMA-7 Television said that a firetruck had drenched the dusty landing zone, a private property, in the wee hour of March 5.

Before the chopper landed however at 7 am of the fateful day, the area was still dusty.

The congressman said the pilots could be seasoned in other helicopters but they could not be experts in Bell 429.

The Bell 429 Global Ranger, according to Wikipidea, is a light, twin-engine helicopter developed by Bell Helicopter and Korea Aerospace Industries. First flight of the Bell 429 prototype took place on February 27, 2007, and the aircraft received type certification on July 1, 2009. The Bell 429 is capable of single-pilot Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and Runway Category A operations.

 It received type certification from Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) on July 1, 2009. The helicopter is a single-pilot IFR Category A helicopter. It is capable of operating with one engine inoperative.

Guico questioned the character, attitude, and performance of the pilots when the aircraft land on a limited, probably sandy soil with high tension wires nearby and when it took off shrouded by thick dust in a zero visibility environment.

It ferried PNP Chief Archie Gamboa,  Director for Comptroller Major General Jovic Ramos, Director for Intelligence Major General Mariel Magaway, PNP Spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac, and others when it left the Highway Patrol Office in San Pedro, Laguna to a police regional command conference in Calamba, Laguna.

Guico did not only blame the pilots for  negligence but also the ground crew at the vacant lot in San Pedro, Laguna.

“They should have drenched the ground from a firetruck. They should have evaluated the area before landing and taking off, read their indicators as reflected by the chopper’s instrument”.

Guico agreed with the observation of pilot and mechanic Ferdinand Senior of Louisiana, USA who told earlier this writer that the thick dust not only prejudiced the visibility of the pilots but damaged compressor and the turbine of the Bell.

“Pinakita ko ang video ng heli ng magtake off sa mga kasamahang kong pilots at aircraft mechanics dito sabi nga nila bago palang take off pag suck ng intake sa alikabok at small debris may tama na compressor at turbine at yong pilot, too crazy for doing it sabi nga nila seconds lang IFR na agad yan pag take off”.

Senior said what the pilots had done was violation of the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

Guico cited an incident when thick particles enveloped the chopper he piloted at the family owned WCC Aviation’s Aeronautical College in Binalonan, Pangasinan.

“When I landed, I was met by thick dust coming from  the far part of the runway. I asked our personnel to douse with water the area so it could not affect the take off and hamper my sight”.

He deplored how the two pilots maneuvered the rotary winged aircraft.

“Because of the incompetence we wasted hundreds of million pesos Bell helicopter,” Guico, whose family bought last month a P130 million Cessna Caravan, said.

Entry filed under: News.

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