By: Priam F. Nepomuceno, Philippine News Agency
August 8, 2014 3:15 AM
MANILA, Philippines -- Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang has ordered the Air Force leadership to investigate and determine quickly what caused one of its brand-new W-3 "Sokol" combat utility helicopters to crash a few minutes after getting airborne in Camp Ranao, Marawi City Thursday afternoon.
"The AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. has already directed the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey F. Delgado, to determine the cause of the accident," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.
All the seven other "Sokol" are to be grounded pending the results of the investigation.
Two W-3A "Sokol" combat utility helicopters had just taken off at the headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Camp Ranao in Marawi City when one of the aircraft crashed at 2:23 p.m. after the pilot apparently lost control when heavy winds struck the helicopter.
The crashed "Sokol" was then serving as backup aircraft for Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin who was aboard the other aircraft along with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The other "Sokol" carrying Gazmin and Roxas safely arrived in its destination at Langundingan Airport about 3:13 p.m.
As a result of the crash, one crew from the chopper was wounded while a civilian was injured.
The helicopter was airborne for three minutes when it encountered difficulty. It was flying at the height of 50 feet.
At the time of the crash, the helicopter was transporting 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Ricardo Visaya, some of his staff, the helicopter crewmen and civilian staff of the Department of National Defense.