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Mar 3, 2020

Ret’d Capt. Comments on Tragic Helicopter Crash

Ret’d Capt. Derricia Jael

The families of the fallen officers have made public their disappointment that they learnt of the demise of their loved ones on social media and not from the B.D.F. command. Today, we spoke to Retired Captain Derricia Jael who has a bachelor’s in aircraft maintenance. She formed part of the Belize Defence Force as the aircraft maintenance officer for the air wing. Jael today explained the force’s standard operating procedures, and in particular the importance of communication.  According to Jael, it’s not only a requirement to establish communication before departing on a mission, but it is also equally important to keep communication with the base during the mission. Jael says that it is unusual that communication was not constant between the team and base.


Ret’d Capt. Derricia Jael, BDF Air wing

“There is a list of minimum equipment that is need for every single aircraft to take off and one of them ironically is a communication system. That is one of the bare minimum that must be on the aircraft where it is the helicopter or the fixed wing aircraft. It is a must. Let’s not think specifically to aviation. Let’s think to the Standard Operating Procedures to the military when going on a patrol whether it is a riverine, land or an air patrol. Establishing comms is a must before departure. Establishing comms throughout the patrol is also a must. I saw in the presence conference where they made reference to not having communications during certain missions.”


Hipolito Novelo

“They say it was usual.”


Ret’d Capt. Derricia Jael

“It is not usual. How will we communicate back with base if something is wrong if we don’t establish comms. There is such a thing as radio silence. Radio silence will be established when you are in the high area where the enemy is. You will go silent when you do your reconnaissance so as not to be picked up by any hand held radio or something that your target might actually have. But radios silence is not for the entire duration for the operation. If you do a close target reconnaissance that is getting within a perimeter that is expected to be your target area within that there is radio silence. But as soon as you leave that you give back information to the ground troops. You give back information to the riverine troops in order for them to know how much people are there, this is the kind of weapon that they have. This is the lat and long location. There is no patrol that is not authorized by the Standard Operating Procedures of the Belize Defence Force to go out without establishing comms before, during and after operations. Within the flying orders which exist at the air wing there is such a thing that is the duty technician. The duty technician is supposed to establish comms before that aircraft leaves. Every half an hour there is supposed to be a radio check to ensure that there is still within the radio frequency to be able to communicate back with that duty technician.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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