ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday night said that the Mi-17 helicopter that crashed in Naltar while transporting foreign envoys and their spouses was fully airworthy.

“The crash occurred after 11 hours of flying following regular servicing,” a military official said at a briefing at the Foreign Office on the crash. The ill-fated chopper had been in service of Pakis­tan Army Aviation since 2002.

Army’s Aviation wing had started using the Russian made Mi-17 transport helicopters in late nineties. Mi-17s are considered as Pakistan Army Aviation’s reliable workhorses. The fleet had been stressed because of the excessive use of these helicopters in counter-terrorism operations.

The US helped Pakistan refurbish and overhaul 22 of the Mi-17s.

Four Mi-17 choppers crashed during the past decade.

Air accidents involving Mi-17 in Pakistan include a 2004 crash near Karak in which 13 soldiers were killed; the 2007 crash near Muzaffarabad on the occasion of inauguration of development projects there; one in 2009 in Kurram Agency in which 41 people were killed; and another in Skardu in 2012 in which five people died. Other than the Skardu crash, whose cause is still publicly not known, the rest were said to have been caused because of technical reasons.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2015

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