(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): DAP sends deepest condolences to the families of the eleven RMAF airmen who perished as a result of two RMAF helicopter crashes in Sabah yesterday and calls for the most thorough inquiry into the airworthiness of all Nuri helicopters.
Defence Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar said in a TV3 interview from the United States where he is to receive RMAF’s first F18 Hornet fighter aircraft that the Nuris were still airworthy as studies showed that the frame of the helicopter was still good but certain equipment like the avionics had to be upgraded to improve the Nuri performance.
If Syed Hamid is right, then there should not be so many Nuri helicopter crashes in the RMAF.
When a RMAF Nuri helicopter crashed off Penang last October, killing three crew members, Hamid said all of RMAF’s 33 Nuri helicopters would be temporarily grounded pending checks on their airworthiness. Now the RMAF’s Nuri helicopter fleet is down to 31.
If the Nuris are airworthy, what then is the reason for the high rate of Nuri helicopter crashes which have claimed some 74 lives in 14 air disasters since 1968.
The latest two Nuri helicopter crashes and casualties on the same day have reminded Malaysians of the warning of the former RMAF chief Lt.Jen. Datuk Seri Abdul Ghani Aziz just before his retirement in August last year that ex-RMAF officers turned defence equipment suppliers had compromised the safety of their formers colleagues and the “operational readiness of the RMAF” by selling “unsuitable and obsolete equipment”.
The Cabinet should take a serious view of the high rate of RMAF Nuri helicopter crashes and the loss of lives by commissioning an independent study into the airworthiness of the RMAF Nuri helicopters as well as into the serious allegations made by Abdul Ghani before his retirement.