Air Force training jet crashes in Tarlac, pilots safe

Posted at 07/19/10 2:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) -Two Air Force pilots survived after their training jet crashed in Concepcion, Tarlac before noon Monday.

A statement from the Philippine Air Force public information office said pilots 1Lt Jose Wilbert Leonides Martines and Maj. Wilfred Babbit Donato ejected safely after their S-211 trainer jet crashed somewhere in Concepcion town. The two were promptly rescued and airlifted back to Clark Air Base at around 11:45 a.m.

"The aircraft impacted a sugarcane field and did not pose any danger to lives and property. The Commanding General immediately formed and dispatched an investigation team to determine the cause of the mishap. The pilots, 1Lt Jose Wilbert Leonides Martines and Maj Wilfred Babbit Donato, the instructor pilot, are doing well and are currently undergoing routine medical check up at the Air Force City Hospital at Clark," the PAF statement read.

The Air Force said all S-211s remain grounded pending results of the investigation on what caused the crash.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the plane took off from the Clark Air Base around 8 a.m. for a training flight. When the plane did not return as scheduled, Okol said they sounded an alarm to search for the aircraft and the pilots.

The unscathed pilots were later found 11:45 a.m., and were subsequently brought back to Clark Air Base for medical checkup.

He said S-211 aircraft was a total wreck but nevertheless praised the two pilots for ensuring that the plane would not cause casualties on the ground.

Okol said the S-211 is utilized to support troops in combat operations and patrol. It saw action in the recent campaign against rogue secessionist rebels in the South, particularly in the provision of “close air support” for engaged troops.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said the aircraft suffered “mechanical problem” while on air but said the exact cause is being determined by investigators. Nevertheless, he said the aircraft was in good flying condition when it took off.

“Presently, the Air Force have formed a board of inquiry to look into the problem but it is an SOP (standard operating procedure) for the Air Force to ground all similar aircraft that are involved in this mishap. So needless to say at this point in time that all S211s are grounded,” said Mabanta.