Navy helicopter flips while landing in Cagayan

Published October 3, 2021, 12:51 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

An AgustaWestland (AW109) power helicopter of the Philippine Navy (PN) has figured in an accident while trying to land in Lal-lo, Cagayan last week, slightly injuring two pilots and two aircrew, authorities confirmed on Sunday, October 3.

File photo shows Philippine Navy personnel while conducting an air evacuation drill using an AgustaWestland (AW109) helicopter on Aug. 16, 2020. (File photo / Philippine Navy)

Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado, PN Flag Officer in Command, said AW109 helicopter with tail number NH435 suddenly “tilted” a few feet off the ground ahead of landing on its designated station around 2 a.m. last September 26. The accident reportedly occured at the Cagayan North International Airport.

“It did not crash, it only tilted. [The aircraft] was only three feet from the ground,” Bordado said in Filipino.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously mentioned at a budget deliberation at the Senate last Friday that an AgustaWestland (AW109) aircraft “rolled over” while attempting to land and was destroyed after being swept by strong gusts of wind.

Investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident but it was revealed that the chopper, a lightweight twin-engine aircraft, had just returned from conducting a mission in support to the Northern Luzon Command’s (NOLCOM) internal security operations when the mishap occured.

The incident injured four military personnel: two pilots and two aircrew, according to Navy spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza.

They were sent to an undisclosed hospital and checked for possible concussion and graze wounds.

Negranza said international experts from Augusta were assisting in their investigation.

“We are conducting a thorough and exhaustive investigation to ascertain the cause. These actions are all geared at shedding light on the incident and to prevent a future occurence,” he said.

The ill-fated aircraft was undergoing assessment as part of the probe.

Meanwhile, Bordado ordered the grounding of all AW109 helicopters in the Navy to have them checked as part of their protocols. The Navy has five AW109s in its fleet.

This was the fifth air accident that happened in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this year.

Prior to this, the most recent accident occured last July 4 when a Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed in Patikul, Sulu — killing 50 soldiers and three civilians on the ground. It was described as the deadliest air tragedy in the history of the country’s military.