Fading away: Members of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) on Tuesday attend the burial of Kopassus training chief Col. Ricky Samuel, one of the three people who died in Monday’s helicopter crash in Cianjur, West Java. Ricky was buried at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta. JP/NURHAYATI
The Army has asked state aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) to help investigate an NBO-105 that crashed Monday, killing three people.
Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Christian Zebua said in Cimahi, West Java on Tuesday that an internal team from the Army and PT DI technicians would investigate the cause of the accident that had killed three people on board.
He also said the Army was open to the possibility that foreign aviation institutions would take part in the investigation.
“The accident was caused more by weather factors. Amid thick mist and rain, the helicopter tried to land.
“It flew low, couldn’t see anything and crashed into bamboo trees before falling down to the ground.”
Meanwhile, Army chief of staff Gen. Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo said presently only 60 percent of the Army’s old and new weaponry were in good condition.
He denied, however, that the latest helicopter accident was caused by the helicopter not being airworthy or the insufficient budget for military weaponry.
“It has nothing to do with budget issues,” he told reporters in Cimahi after opening a meeting at the Army’s air defense artillery center.
“The causes of one accident to another are varying; some are caused by human error and some are by weather factors.”
He said the helicopter, made by PT DI in 1988, was declared airworthy before being cleared to fly.
Agustadi also said although its weaponry was not in the best condition, the Army’s 306,000 personnels was “100 percent prepared” for a military operation.
He added 85 percent of Rp 16 trillion (US$1.6 billion) allocated to the Army in 2009 was used to pay salaries, leaving only Rp 2 trillion for the maintenance and purchasing of new weaponry.
The ill-fated helicopter crashed in Cianjur while on its way to the Army’s Special Forces Command (Kopassus) training center Batujajar in Cimahi from Pangalengan, Bandung.
The victims were Col. Ricky Samuel, the Kopassus training center, chief, Capt. Agung Gunanto, head of the training center’s training section and co-pilot First Lt. Yuli Sasongko.
Ricky was buried at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, South Jakarta, while Agung was buried in Cianjur and Yuli in Temanggung, Central Java.
Pilot Capt. Hadi Isnarto and another Kopassus officer, First Lt. Agus Sudarso are being treated
at the Dustira Army Hospital, Cimahi.
PT DI spokesman Rakhendi Triyatna said the ill-fated helicopter was one of 122 NBO-105 helicopters produced under licence from German aerospace firm Messerschmitt Bolkow Blohm since 1976. The last unit was handed over to the Army in March.
Rakhendi said although the chopper license had expired, the Army still carried out regular maintenance with PT DI technicians. He added a helicopter could be used for about 30 years.
In Semarang, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono paid his respects to the death of three Army officers in the accident.
He also reminded the military to pay careful attention to weather conditions when doing exercises to prevent fatal accidents in the future.
Retired army general Prabowo, a vice presidential candidate, and former Kopassus commander, said the president should not be blamed for the accident.
Suherdjoko contributed to this article from Semarang.