Brunei-Muara - A special investigation tasked to ascertain the cause of a helicopter crash, which killed 12 Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) soldiers in Ulu Belait last month, is still ongoing.
Speaking to The Brunei Times for the first time since the accident, RBAF Commander Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin said they will endeavour to complete the investigation "as soon as possible". When asked whether the findings will be made public, the RBAF Commander pledged that the Ministry of Defence - (MinDef) will be "very transparent". "The investigation will take time. Looking at the timeframe for investigations that have been done in other countries, it's not a simple task that can be done in a few weeks. We have to be very thorough and systematic," he said.
Major General Dato Hj Aminuddin shared that the highly anticipated findings will be instrumental towards the prevention of similar tragedies in the future.
An aircraft accident investigation team from the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) was established to oversee the investigation, which began immediately after the helicopter accident occured, supported by international investigators from the United States and Canada.
A preliminary report has also been submitted to the highest level of Board of Inquiry led by First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abd Halim Hj Mohd Hanifah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN).
Commenting on the helicopter tragedy that killed 12 soldiers and injured two others on the eve of the Ramadhan fasting month, Major General Dato Hj Aminuddin said that it was "a sad moment, not only for the RBAF, but for the nation itself."
"The passing of our soldiers in the helicopter crash is a huge loss to us. Their sacrifices will be forever remembered," he said in mourning.
The RBAF Commander also conveyed prayers for the families of the victims and thanked them for their support coupled with understanding. "We will always ensure that their families are taken care of," he stated.
On July 20, an RBAirF Bell 212 helicopter that was returning to Bandar Seri Begawan was involved in an accident during the afternoon in Ulu Belait.
The military aircraft was carrying 14 passengers, who were undergoing training. 12 soldiers on board were killed in the crash, while two survived. The majority of the passengers were officer cadets of the latest intake from the RBAF Officer Cadet School (OCS) in Sg Akar.--Courtesy of The Brunei Times