The crash of the Bell 212 helicopter that killed nine Army officers yesterday in Phayao province has raised widespread concern in the social network of whether this model of rotorcraft is still safe as one of the victims posted a message on his Facebook just before airborne saying the aircraft was old.
Sergeant Master (first class) Anant Chomchiengkam posted on his Facebook at 7.00 am before joining the team of the deputy commander of the Third Army Region Maj Songpol Thongjin to visit troops at various bases in Phayao and Chiang Rai on Monday.
His message reads “it’s time now to challenge the sky…the cold wind again… old copter.. new pilot…. weather closes…hell door opens….”
He also wrote he was very glad that the deputy commander of the Third Army offered him a hand shake before boarding the aircraft to begin the visit.
The officer was among the nine killed in the fatal crash.
A villager who witnessed the crash yesterday said he heard unusual sound like the copter was choking and then spinning and hitting a tree before crashing into the field.
Bell 212 helicopter had earlier crashed in Kaeng Kracharn national park in Phetburi province on July 24, 2011 killing three senior army officers.
Malfunctioning of the tail rotor was found to be the cause of the crash.
The Army has commissioned the Bell 212 helicopter in services for search and rescue operations with the installation of the lifting slings. It now has about 40 Bell 212 helicopters in use at all army bases across the country.
Meanwhile the Army has set up a committee to investigate the cause.
All the bodies of the officers were contained in coffins covered with national flags and carried in a convoy of army vehicles at noon today from Phayao back to the Third Army headquarters in Phitsanulok for religious ceremony.
The convoy is expected to arrive at Kuhasawan temple this evening where royal cremation ceremony will be held as an honour for the nine officers.
Religious ceremonies will be from today until November 25 when funeral will be held at 4.00 pm at Wat Kuhasawan.