Sarawak helicopter crash, which killed deputy minister, partly attributed to pilot

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 June 2017:

The Eurocopter AS350 mishap in Batang Lupar, near Sebuyau, Sarawak in May last year was caused by bad weather and a pilot who was not familiar with the area, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai yesterday.

He said this view was forwarded by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau in its final report on the mishap which would be uploaded on the ministry’s website ( soon.

He said the final report, which had been tabled in the Cabinet last month, found that when the mishap took place the helicopter had entered an area lashed by storm and heavy rain.

“We conducted an investigation and found that the helicopter had entered a storm area and at that moment the weather report form the Meteorological Department had also indicated that the mishap area was an area with heavy rain.

“The mishap did not involve technical problems but the weather and the pilot. Those familiar with the route might have avoided it but the pilot was from abroad and was not well-versed with the condition here, so he followed the GPS and it could have caused the crash.”

Liow said the final report also recommended that any company, individual or agency using foreign pilots must ensure they undergo a special local helicopter flight course before being allowed to fly the aircraft.

“The course is to enable foreign pilots to familiarise themselves with the environment, weather and surrounding conditions in the country before they are allowed to fly any helicopter here.”

On May 5, last year, an aircraft crashed in Batang Lupar killing six passengers including the Filipino pilot Captain Rudolf Rex Ragas, Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Tan Sri Noriah Kasnon and Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad.

On the Piper PA28 light aircraft which crashed on the Nusajaya Pulai Highway, Johor yesterday, Liow said the preliminary report on the incident would be issued in a month.

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