PAF combat chopper crashes in Bohol; pilot dead, 3 survive

Published April 27, 2021, 3:00 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) attack helicopter crashed during a maintenance flight in Getafe, Bohol Tuesday morning, April 27, killing the pilot and injuring three others.

Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, PAF spokesperson, said a McDonnel Douglas 520-MG “Defender” combat chopper from the 15th Strike Wing went down on the shorelines of Gestafe town around 9:30 a.m.

“We can confirm that we have a downed aircraft in the vicinity of Bohol,” Mariano said.

Mariano said the pilot did not survive the crash after he chose to stay inside the chopper as it crashed while the survivors managed to jump into the sea before the impact.

The PAF has yet to release the identities of the lone fatality and the survivors as their families were being notified of the incident.

Mariano said the pilot-in-command was captain while the survivors included the co-pilot with a rank of 1st Lieutenant; and two crew members who are both Airman First Class. The body of the pilot was already retrieved on site.

Local police and the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) identified the fatality as Captain Aurelios Olano.

The survivors were brought to a medical facility in Talibon, Bohol for immediate treatment, said Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The cause of the crash was already being investigated by the authorities as of this writing.

However, Mariano said the chopper took off from a PAF military base in Mactan Island, Cebu and was conducting a periodic test flight when it crashed into the shore.

“The aircraft is on a maintenance flight and those are the areas na pinaggagawaan nila ng maintenance flight (where they do maintenance flight),” he said.

“Ito po ay isang engineering flight so doon po chine-check yung equipment such as the radios, mga communication device, and others (It was an engineering flight where they check the radios, the communication device, and others,” he added.

Mariano said PAF probers from the 505 Search and Rescue Group, the 47th infantry Battalion, and the Bohol PDRRMO were already sent on-site to retireve the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, PAF Commanding General, ordered the immediate grounding of all MD 520-MG choppers in their fleet to subject them into a maintenance check.

“May utos na ang ating Commanding General na i-ground ang lahat ng ating MD 520-MG aircraft for an inspection until such time that they are certified again to be air worthy (The Commanding General ordered the grounding of all our MD 520-MG aircraft for an inspection until such time that they are certified again to be air worthy),” Mariano said.

The ill-fated MD 520-MG chopper was part of the batch of attack helicopters that were delivered into the Philippines from 1990 to 1995, Mariano said.

Paredes grieved the death of the pilot even as he assured that the PAF will provide all the necessary assistance and financial aid to his bereaved family.

Arevalo said Gen. Cirilito Sobejana was saddened by the loss of the Philippine Air Force and ordered a speedy investigation on the incident to determine the cause of the crash.