Monday, July 16, 2007

Missing Nuri & Crews

It has been four days of searching for the missing Malaysian Air Force Nuri Helicopter and its six crews. Today more then 1300 search and rescue (SAR) personnel from various agencies have been deployed for the SAR operations. I am really sad that we still could not find the missing helicopter and crews despite its happened only 10 minutes after leaving the Sg. Besi Air Base.

Something is definitely not right in terms of the safety and emergency system for the Helicopter. We should not allow our aircraft to fly without automatic release/ transmitting electronic positioning identification radio beacon ( EPIRB ) . The EPIRB is now mandatory to be carried on all merchant vessels and it will automatically release if the ship sink. Without it and high tech search equipment our SAR team is facing a tremendous difficulty in locating the victims.

I am sure the SAR Coordinator is using all his expertise and standard SAR procedures to find the victims but the failure until today shows that our capability in SAR is still low. The Government and RMAF must take this matter seriously – to upgrade our SAR capability and also to replace the more then 40 years old Nuri.

During my early days of heading the National Maritime SAR operations, I have flown on the Nuri on many occasions and used the helicopter on my SAR missions. The Nuri has served its time and the RMAF deserved better air craft to full fill its responsibilities in air defense and emergency missions.

It is difficult for a layman to comprehend why we failed to find the Nuri & its crews despite its happening 10 minutes from the Base. As a former SAR person I could understand the tremendous pressure on our SAR team but then we must look beyond this incident and mission to ensure we are not shamed again in future as a result of our poor capabilities.

Let’s all pray that the divine help from Allah will assists the SAR team in finding the crews alive.

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