Air Force grounds planes after Bataan crash

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Friday, April 29, 2011


BATAAN -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Friday grounded its two remaining S-211 trainer aircraft, pending investigation on Thursday's crash of same military plane in Bagac town that killed two pilots.

"All S-211s are grounded," said Air Force spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol. "Right now, we're in the process of investigation."

The Air Force is left with only two operational S-211 aircrafts following Thursday afternoon's mishap at a beach off Bagac town. Three other S-211 planes in the inventory of the Air Force are currently undergoing maintenance.

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Okol said the pilots, Major Ephraim Soyum and Captain Raymond de Leon, were on a proficiency training flight when their plane crashed for still unknown reasons. Officials earlier said the plane disintegrated upon impact.

The body of Soyum, valedictorian of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1997, was retrieved shortly after the incident. De Leon's body, on the other hand, was recovered by authorities around 6:20 a.m. Friday.

"Since we have already retrieved the remains (of the pilots), we are now collecting data. We are now collecting the other debris from the site and then from there, the aircraft investigation board that was tasked to investigate will bring the aircraft parts to a hangar, then continue their investigation on what happened," said Okol.

When asked if the pilots were not able to eject prior to the crash, Okol said: "I am sorry. I cannot discuss the details of the investigation. That's part of the investigation. But what we can say the facts that we have on hand, we have fatalities, both pilots died in the crash. It was on a routine (conduct of) proficiency mission."

Apart from serving as trainers for Air Force pilots, the S-211 planes are also used by the military in combat missions and reconnaissance patrol. (VR/Sunnex)

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