At least four members of the Philippine Air Force were killed when their helicopter crashed during a night-flight training mission in northern Luzon Island, officials said Friday, as the military branch was investigating the cause.
The Huey (UH-1D) helicopter plummeted shortly after lifting off from the Cauayan Air Station near Cauayan city in Isabela province on Thursday evening, military officials said.
“The military aircraft with five personnel onboard were conducting proficiency training for night flying when the accident happened,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
“The two pilots, the other officer, and one of the aircrew perished,” he said, adding that a fifth airman had survived and was being treated at a hospital.
After the crash at the air base, the air force enforced a “hold order” grounding all Huey helicopters in its nationwide fleet. As a result, all of them would undergo stringent safety inspections and maintenance, officials said.
“We will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the incident,” said Lt. Col. Aristides Galang, chief of the Philippine Air Force’s public affairs office.
The air force identified those who died as pilot Maj. Christoper Cesar Urbano, co-pilot Capt. Fiorelio Bernardo, Lt. Mike Tuesday Tabigne and Sgt. John Christopher Tagauiam. The lone survivor, airman Gerry Aviles, was said to be recuperating from his injuries at a hospital.
The crash occurred nearly five months after the Philippine national police chief and three other police generals were among eight people injured when their Bell 429 helicopter crashed shortly after liftoff in Laguna province, south of Manila.
The chopper crashed when its propeller snagged a high-tension electrical wire while lifting off from a police compound.