Sunday, September 12, 2010

PAF Grounds Huey Helicopter Fleet

The entire fleet of Philippine Air Force (PAF) UH-1H “Huey”
helicopters has been grounded by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena
following the incident last Friday wherein one of their choppers was
engulfed in flames after making an emergency landing in Ilocos Norte.

This was revealed on Saturday by PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Migue Okol
who said the entire “Huey” fleet will remain grounded until
investigators determine the cause of the fire.

According to Okol, the PAF Huey helicopter with tail number 330 was on
a resupply mission in support of the 503rd Army Infantry Brigade and
was ferrying several soldiers when the incident happened.

While enroute, Capt. John Gador and Lt. Edbert Ngina experienced
engine problems and were forced to make a precautionary landing in an
open field in Barangay Nagrebcan.

After safely touching down with all the passengers and crew out of the
aircraft, a fire reportedly developed inside the engine bay which
became too big for the crew to put out with their fire extinguishers.

With the aircraft still fully loaded with fuel, the fire spread to the
fuel tanks causing the fire to engulf the entire aircraft.

The Huey chopper was left in a total state of disrepair.

The UH-1H helicopter is the PAF’s workhorse used in combat, troop
transport, rescue, and re-supply missions. With the latest incident,
the PAF is now left with just about 40 Huey helicopters.

Meanwhile, the PAF is anticipating the delivery of eight brand-new
utility helicopters from Poland to replace their aging fleet of

According to Okol, they expect the delivery of the combat utility
helicopters from PZL Swienik Company of Poland by the first quarter of

Okol disclosed that the Swienik helicopter can carry 14 persons,
including the pilot and co-pilot, and has a maximum speed of 260 kph
with a range of 745 km, non-stop. The Sweinik can climb to an altitude
of 19,680 feet, which is more than twice the height that the Huey can

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