Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana on Tuesday confirmed that the “black box” or flight data recorder of the ill-fated C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft that crashed in Patikul, Sulu has been recovered.
“It was located 11 a.m. yesterday. It was seen and recovered from the site by the team from the 220th Airlift Wing,” Sobejana said in Filipino in a television interview.
A flight data recorder is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents.
Sobejana also said the crash site has been cordoned off to prevent contamination of pieces of evidence that will be recovered within its one-kilometer radius.
“Actually, there are different versions coming from witnesses’ accounts. I spoke with one of the survivors and now undergoing treatment at our military hospital in Zamboanga. He said that the aircraft bounced three times, and on its third bounce, it zigzagged and started to fly again but I think it was not able to go into full power, so it ended short and its wings hit a tree which caused it to bank on the right and crashed. Others are saying that only one landing gear was seen, but probably it is due to their line-of-sight, but anyway, all of these things will be determined by site investigators,” he added partly in Filipino.
Sobejana also advised the public not to speculate and wait for the final word from the investigators.
He added that the recovery of the “black box” will allow investigators to listen to the last conversation between the pilots and the crew inside the C-130 cockpit so that they will get a clearer picture of what really transpired.
Sobejana added that he wants investigation results to be released as fast as possible but these must be deliberate, accurate, and based on facts.
“(My) instruction (is) to do it as fast as possible but we should not compromise the quality of the investigation,” he said.
The aircraft was about to transport troops to Jolo when it crashed in Patikul, Sulu around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. It was one of the two C-130H acquired through a grant from the US government that arrived in the country last Jan. 29. It was formally welcomed to the PAF fleet during a ceremony at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay last Feb. 18.
The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin.
Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft.
Around 96 people were recorded in the C-130’s flight manifest, including three pilots and five aircrew.At least 49 military personnel and three civilians on the ground were confirmed dead in the incident.