A Philippine Air Force (PAF) training aircraft carrying two pilots crash landed in the middle of a ricefield in Bataan on Wednesday morning, Jan. 25.
Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, PAF spokesperson, said the ill-fated aircraft was an SIAI-Marchetti SF260-TP trainer with tail number 701 which crashed while performing a recurrency/training flight in Sitio Tabon, Brgy. Del. Rosario in Pilar town.
“We confirm that we have an aircraft that crash landed in Pilar, Bataan this morning,” Castillo told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
Castillo confirmed that the pilots died in the accident.
“Two PAF pilots perished in the mishap while no civilian casualties were reported,” Castillo said.
A spot report from the Pilar Municipal Police Station identified the fallen pilots as Captains Ian Gerru C. Paulo and John Paulo O. Aviso. It said the aircraft had body number 29 while the cause of the crash is already being probed.
Citing initial information from PAF, Castillo said that the trainer aircraft took off from Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite around 10 a.m.
“The base of our SF260s is in Sangley so they took off from there and they usually go around the area,” Castillo shared.
“We have the SPYDER to monitor our aircraft but we lost track of the trainer at 10:34 a.m.,” she added.
SPYDER refers to Surface-to-Air Python and Derby Medium Range which is a ground-based air defense system that can monitor the air assets of the PAF.
Pilar police said there were witnesses who saw the plane “fast descending downward to [the] field” until it crashed.
Castillo said the PAF already deployed investigators on the crash site to conduct further investigation.
The PAF has already grounded its entire fleet of SF260s as part of its standard operating procedure (SOP), according to Castillo. There was no immediate available information on the remaining number of active SF260s in the PAF fleet following the crash.
But Castillo said that the PAF’s SF260 is a “highly maneuverable and acrobatic” basic trainer aircraft which also serves as a light attack combat aircraft.
“It was used during the Marawi siege and various combat missions of the PAF,” she noted.
She said the PAF will extend all the necessary assistance and support to the bereaved families of the casualties.
Castillo assured the public that the PAF will continue to perform its mandate to provide air support for focused military operations and disaster response despite the mishap.
Missing Cessna plane
Meanwhile, Castillo said the PAF also deployed a Huey aircraft to locate the missing Cessna 206 aircraft that went missing in Cauayan, Isabela on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
The six-seater plane with tail number RPC 1174 took off at the Cauayan Domestic Airport in Brgy. San Fermin, Cauayan City, Isabela at 2:16 p.m. and was bound for Maconacon, Isabela when it was reported missing. It was reportedly carrying one pilot and five passengers.
Castillo said the PAF was tapped by the Office of Civil Defense in Cagayan Valley (OCD-2) to help in the search and rescue (SAR) operations.
“We have two helicopters on standby at the Tactical Operations Group 2 in Cauayan, Isabela. We have been in coordination with OCD-2 and PDRRMC [Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council] which spearhead the SAR operations,” Castillo said.
The PAF Huey aircraft took off at Cauayan Domestic Airport around 10 a.m. Wednesday but they had to immediately return due to bad weather.
“We are ready to resume [SAR operations] once the weather becomes flyable,” Castillo said.