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NAF chief orders helicopter  crash probe

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The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Hassan Abubakar has ordered immediate investigations into the immediate and remote causes of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter crash in River State last week.

He said the outcome of the investigation would enable the NAF to “learn exactly what happened and prevent future occurrences”.

The NAF’s chief disclosed this when he visited the five crew that survived the crash at NAF’s Medical Center Port Harcourt, River State capital.

A NAF MI-35P attack helicopter crashed in Port Harcourt on Friday, 1 December, while on an operation against oil thieves.

The five crew, who were part of troops of 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG), onboard the aircraft survived with “very minor injuries”.

In a statement by the NAF spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the NAF’s chief commended the crew for the professional manner in which they handled the emergency they found themselves.

He said: “Your actions were commendable and a decisive factor in mitigating the extent of damage to public property and loss of lives”.

Air Marshall Hassan said the 115 SOG has been well known for its gallantry and fighting spirit and the mere presence of the MI-35P helicopters on the battlefield has been a game changer.

He said the helicopters have, over the years, continued to strike fear deep into the hearts of terrorists and other criminals while at the same time boosting the morale of surface forces.

The NAF’s chief encouraged the injured crew to see the setback as a setup for a resilient comeback, and channel efforts toward thwarting the activities of oil thieves.

He urged all NAF personnel to see air accidents as an impetus to propel all of them towards seeking improved safety management measures while remaining undeterred and focused on tackling the myriads of security threats facing the nation.

He said: “Times like these are a sad reminder of the inherent risks in military aviation, especially when flying activities, occasioned by our current security challenges, have tremendously increased.

“As we continue to fly intensively, incidents are bound to occur. Nevertheless, we must continue to ensure we minimize the risk factors as reasonably practicable.

“You must therefore never be discouraged as the hopes of millions of Nigerians rest on our shoulders. The realisation of these aspirations is hinged on our ability to combat all forms of criminality that threaten our peace and stability.

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