The death of the six members of the RMAF when their Nuri helicopter crashed a couple of weeks ago must have numbed everyone. Like everyone else, I offer my condolences to the families of the deceased and pray that their soul rest in peace. Al Fatihah.
Much has been said about the tradegy. We all know that this is not the first Nuri to have crashed. If what we read in the newspapers is true, that fateful crash could be the last. The grounding of the Nuris could trigger a new set of helicopters taking to the sky to enable our airmen and women to do their task well and with the minimum danger.
I've flown in the Nuri before. Not once but several times. Many journalists had flown in them during assignments in and around the country, whether on assignments with the RMAF or with members of the Cabinet on site visits etc.
There wasn't much fear among the journalists in the chopper. We felt save, partly because the fun of riding in one caused us to forget about any safety aspects. Prime Ministers and their wives had flown in the Nuri too. In fact, on one particular flight, Tun Dr Mahathir would stand near the door to see what's on the ground.
I recall one flight the early '80s when the Nuri took me and other journalists from somewhere in the east coast to Gemencheh in Negri Sembilan. We were in one chopper and Tun Musa Hitam, then the DPM flew in another.
We followed him when he made an unscheduled visit to see the slain Umno politician which became a major talking point in the country then. We flew back in the late evening and the crew took us back to Sg Besi safely even when it was getting dark. I remember vividly Tun Musa giving a Press Conference on the doorsteps of the deceased house, saying that the slaying was not a political killing.
Anyway, whenever a Nuri crashed, many questions surfaced. Many of these questions are repeat questions, meaning they have been asked each time a crash occurs. Besides the families of the deceased, we the rakyat also deserve full explanation of the incidents.
Was the crash due to mechanical failures? If so, what were the faults? Weren't the faults detected earlier? Can we see records of these faults and what kind of repairs were done? What lessons did we learn from each crash, from every previous crash?
Can we do an audit of each Nuri to gauge and determine the exact airworthiness of each aircraft? What is the life span of each Nuri? Would new avionics extend the airworthiness of the Nuri? If so, by how many years? What were the economic justification for extending the airworthiness of these aircraft?
Were all the crash due to mechanical failures? Were there any that could have been due to human errors? If so, which ones? Again, if so, have these been comprehensively explained to the families of the deceased and their loved ones? What kind of action taken on those found to have been the cause of the crash? If there were human errors, why weren't they made public?
Whenever enquiries are done for each crash, would the families of the deceased be represented, maybe by a family lawyer? Can the family actually request representation when enquiries are made, so that there is better transparency in these exercises?
The list of questions are endless actually. As each question is posed, and no adequate answers found and made known, the public will continue to speculate and come to conclusions of their own. Most, if not all, of the conclusions could be wrong ones as they are based on hearsay and rumours.
This is unnecessary, and dangerous. If these deaths are to have any meaning at all, then let's get the answers quickly and truthfully. Let's find where, or who as the case may be, the fault lies.