MANILA — The Philippine Air Force said its investigation into a crash that killed 2 of its aviators could take weeks.
During a training, the military's SF260 Marchetti plane plummeted onto a rice paddy in Pilar, Bataan on Thursday, killing the pilot and another aviator, police said.
An investigation to determine the cause of the crash would look at all possible angles, including material, human and weather factors, according to PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo.
“Unti-unti tinatanggal namin ang pinakavaluable na parts of the equipment na masa-salvage pa that could help us and give us data on what really happened, tulad ng voice transmission equipment,” she told reporters on Thursday.
(We are gradually removing the most valuable parts of the equipment that can be salvaged that could help us and give us data on what really happened, like the voice transmission equipment.)
The SF260s were delivered to the Philippines from Italy in 1992, Castillo said.
Despite being used for decades, the official assured that the PAF maintains the planes’ good condition.
“We have very competent maintenance crew maintaining the aircraft. We have very competent pilots flying the aircraft. Kahit medyo may edad na ang aircraft na ito, they are still being used and naging very effective sila sa ating air operations, lalo for internal security operations and counterterrorism,” Castillo said.
(We have very competent maintenance crew maintaining the aircraft. We have very competent pilots flying the aircraft. Even though these aircraft are quite old, they are still being used and they have been very effective in our air operations, especially for internal security operations and counterterrorism.)
“Napaka-importante na suportahan ang modernization projects to have more updated aircraft, but our assurance is… we ensure na well-maintained po sila. We are very strict in our schedules, in our scheduled maintenance,” she added.
(It is very important to support the modernization projects to have more updated aircraft, but our assurance is... we ensure that they are well-maintained. We are very strict in our schedules, and in our scheduled maintenance.)
The 4 remaining SF260 units of the PAF will be grounded while the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
The air force earlier identified the fallen pilots as Capt. Ian Gerru Casiños Pasinos, who was from Cagayan de Oro City, and Capt. Jhon Paulo Ong Aviso, who was from Zamboanga City.
Aviso's remains were flown to his hometown on Friday, while Pasino remained at the Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base (CJVAB) Mortuary in Pasay City.
Both were seasoned pilots with several years of flying experience, and were recipients of Gold Cross Medals for their gallantry in action, the PAF said.
They were also part of various air combat operations, including military offensives against the Maute terrorist group during the Battle of Marawi. Pasino was also involved in various missions in Lanao del Sur, and against the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol in 2017.
PAF also lauded the 2 pilots for their "final act of heroism", which was to ensure that they will land on a clear area to prevent the possibility of casualties on ground.
Their ill-fated flight took off from the Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite at about 10 a.m. The PAF lost track of the aircraft around 30 minutes later.
In June 2021, the military temporarily grounded its entire Black Hawk fleet after an S-70i helicopter crashed during a night-time training, killing all 6 on board.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse