MANILA, Philippines – Aviation authorities on Tuesday said human error was the cause of the tragic accident that killed Quezon Governor Rafael Nantes and 5 others last week.
This was the official finding of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB).
The probe ruled out mechanical failure as the cause of the crash of Nantes' Robinson R-44 helicopter in Lucena City on May 17, 2010.
The chopper crashed into a residential area 5 minutes after takeoff.
The pilot had apparently flown the chopper against the wind, causing it to crash.
Nantes was on his way back to Manila after attending a flag-raising ceremony at the Quezon National High School when the fatal crash occurred.
Nantes’ wife and son had sought help from President Arroyo to determine the real cause of the governor’s death.
The family believes the governor’s helicopter was sabotaged.
However, joint police and military probers checked the crash site and found no traces of explosives.
Furthermore, no weather disturbance was reported at the time and place of the accident.
The AAIB reported to CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi that the chopper’s engine was working fine before the accident. It was learned that the helicopter had only 300 hours of flying time in the country, meaning it was not due for maintenance.
No other defects were found in the helicopter.
Aviation authorities grounded all Robinson helicopters, including those used by the police and military, pending investigation into last week’s accident.
Cusi lifted this order Tuesday, but ordered all Robinson helicopter pilots to undergo safety and awareness seminars.