Sunday, June 30, 2013

Military turns to private sector for help in search for downed plane

From InterAksyon (Jun 30): Military turns to private sector for help in search for downed plane

Task Force Bronco commander Brig Gen Condrado Parra Jr. briefs journalists on the continuing search for the Air Force OV-10 Bronco aircraft that crashed off Palawan last week. (photo by Elmer Badilla,

More than a week after an Air Force OV-10 Bronco 630 crashed off Palawan, the military has turned to the private sector for help to find the downed aircraft and its two pilots.

Brigadier General Condrado Parra Jr., commander of Task Force Bronco, told a press briefing Sunday that they have requested Pilipinas Shell for the use of the oil company’s Remote Operated Vehicle.

“We already requested the ROV from Shell’s Malampaya Gas Project. Hopefully, it will be here next week, parang Tuesday yata ang alis sa Batangas (it might leave Batangas Tuesday),” Parra said.

Last week, the Air Force contracted the sonar-equipped MY Sakura from a Cebu-based firm. It was the Sakura’s sonar that detected what appeared to be a wreck on the seabed that authorities have been hoping is the crashed plane’s fuselage.

The task force also commissioned an underwater camera from the Department of Science and Technology to help in the search, which involves the Navy’s BRP Lumibao (PG393) and BRP Mangyan (AS71), and the Coast Guard’s BRP Romblon (3503).

Parra also said land and aerial reconnaissance operations are also conducted simultaneously with the maritime search.

“We have already searched over almost the entirety of the eastern shoreline of Palawan. We will expand the search in the coming days” he said.

Still search and rescue

At the same time, Parra clarified that their operations are still on search and rescue mode, not retrieval.

“We are now on our eighth day. Up to now, search and rescue pa rin because we are still hoping na buhay pa ‘yung mga piloto (Up to now, we are still in search and rescue because we are still hoping the pilots are alive). We will never stop until we find them,” he said.

“We only do retrieval when we already have identified the exact location of the wreckage and if we are already sure about the condition of the pilots. So for now, search and rescue pa rin (it’s still search and rescue). Rescue with high hopes na buhay pa ‘yung mga pilots” explained Western Command spokesperson Lieutenant Cheryl Tindog.

Telltale signs

Although the search and rescue teams have already recovered the cargo bay door, nose wheel and a life raft of the ill-fated OV-10, the task force said this was not enough to determine the cause of the crash.

“Although debris has been found, it is still not enough to conclude,” Parra said.
Parra also said the investigation by the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force is still continuing.

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