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Mar 18, 2020

Ministry of National Security Releases Latest Reports into Fatal Chopper Incident

Late this evening, the Ministry of National Security held a press conference about the investigation into the fatal helicopter incident. The press was informed that the reports, one from Belize Civil Aviation Department and one from BELL, the manufacturers of the UH1H helicopter, have been completed.  The report wasn’t shared at the briefing; instead, it was posted to the ministry’s website where the media accessed it following the briefing around six this evening.  So, we haven’t had a chance to review the reports, but today, the ministry answered some questions from the press and shared their observations into these latest reports. Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte says that the report didn’t show anything new or significantly different from the previous release. Here’s how that went.

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security

“To me, it adds nothing new. There are no surprises in there but I don’t expect you to trust me, so you can read it for yourself when we post it online.”

 

Reporter

“Is it still pointing to non-mechanical error; pilot error – are those reports still pointing to pilot error?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well, they don’t get into that directly; essentially they just analyze the aircraft.”

 

Reporter

“Are there any ballistic report, anything that indicates any activity with gunfire?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“You mean new reports? No, no, currently the report remains that here is no evidence of any gunshot to the mainframe or other parts of the aircraft. A full autopsy was done with photographs and everything and there was no sign of any harm by any firearm or anything of that effect. The autopsy report, naturally, we have given the family the opportunity to view it or have it if they want, but naturally what they do with it is their choice and it is not the position of the government to release it to the public. We don’t want those pictures circulating on Facebook, to be honest with you.”

 

Reporter

“The Honduran report found that the engine was energized at the point of contact, or that was their conclusion? What has BELL concluded about the function of the engine?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well, I haven’t seen anything differently that they have concluded.”

 

Reporter

“So, it wasn’t a mechanical failure?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Right. It wasn’t a mechanical failure. They didn’t indicate that there was anything wrong with the helicopter, per se. Except that it crashed, but before that there is no indication from their report.”

 

Reporter

“Is there any indication, from any of the reports as to why it was going full speed or if that is what normally happens?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well, as they said in their report, the Hondurans, essentially they talk about a spatial disorientation or mis-orientation or what have you. But you would have to interpret that to me. But given that the aircraft was going on a right turn downward at a thousand feet per minute before it hit the water, based on the damage to the aircraft or how they interpret it. In their view, in one of their theories, could be since there is no other damage to anything that would indicate otherwise, the pilot in command wasn’t fully aware of how high he was or how low he was and when he made that bank, he wasn’t aware that he was much lower than he thought he was. We have to assume that the pilot in command didn’t purposely put the aircraft in the water and so we have to believe that is possible that based on their report, one of the issues could have been the spatial disorientation.”

 

On Thursday, we will have more on these reports.


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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