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Posted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:18 pm Post subject: Uganda: UPDF Helicopter Crashlands At Entebbe
The Monitor (Kampala)
December 27, 2006
UGANDA'S last non - second-hand helicopter crash-landed at Entebbe airbase on Christmas Eve. The Bell Augusta 412 was one of the last helicopters bought by the late Milton Obote's government over 20 years ago.
The helicopter fell out of the skies and crashed near the Fisheries Training Institute (FTI), a stone's throw from its destination. A report is yet to be compiled but technical sources believe the aircraft simply ran out of fuel. Army technicians swiftly removed the wreckage and rushed it to the base to see if the aircraft can be repaired.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the chopper went down on Christmas Eve near FTI as it returned to the airbase. " As far as we know there have been no fatalities" said Mr Ignie Igunduura, the CAA spokesman.
The chopper is believed to have been returning from Karamoja where the UPDF have been conducting a forceful disarmament programme against Karimojong warriors.
Sources say there were nine officers on board, including the pilot and flight engineer, and none of them was seriously hurt. According to the UPDF, the helicopter involved was a non-combat transport aircraft on a routine flight. The Army however declined to disclose who or how many officers were on board at the time of the accident.
"It's true that a Bell Military transport helicopter made an emergency landing at Entebbe. None of the officers were hurt and technicians are working to fix the problem," said army spokesman Felix Kulayigye.
This is the second incident involving a military helicopter this year and the third since the high profile death of the late Sudanese Vice President John Garang in July 31 2005.
Garang and the Ugandan crew of the Presidential chopper lost their lives in a crash blamed on pilot error. Mid this year, another military aircraft, an aerial surveillance plane crashed into Lake Victoria during a training exercise.
The latest crash is bound to once again bring into focus the air safety record of Uganda overall. This year, Das Air, the largest cargo transporter out of Entebbe was banned from flying into Europe.
But an investigation by Daily Monitor revealed that several complaints had been lodged with Uganda's CAA over its safety standards. and procedures. Though CAA only provides "limited services" to the air force, flight safety standards are a common concern for both institutions.
According to Igunduura, CAA is in touch with the International Civil Aviation Organisation to ensure proper standards are maintained. _________________ Serving the Civil Helo Industry - www.heliopsmag.com
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