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The 2018 helicopter crash that killed the governor of Puebla. The 2018 helicopter crash that killed the governor of Puebla.

Poor upkeep, not sabotage, caused craft carrying governor to crash: report

According to the log, the helicopter should not have been flown: minister

The 2018 helicopter crash that killed then-governor of Puebla Martha Erika Alonso was the result of mechanical failure and negligence, rather than a premeditated attack, according to the Communications and Transportation Ministry (SCT).

Alonso was killed along with her husband, Senator Rafael Moreno Valle, and the helicopter crew when the pilot lost control of the aircraft just outside the city of Puebla on Christmas Eve 2018.

Transportation Minister Javier Jiménez Espriú told the president’s Friday morning press conference that the official cause of the crash was “loss of control … due to a sudden roll to the left, from which the pilot was unable to recover, causing the helicopter to flip over and make impact with the ground in this position.”

He said the final report shows that there was damage to parts of the rotor that move the blades and keep the helicopter balanced.

Jiménez said that the investigations found no evidence of sabotage or other foul play, but the flight log recorded damage to a rotor part that helps control the aircraft’s horizontal roll, though no maintenance was done on the part.

The president of Alonso’s National Action Party, Marko Cortés, alleged in February 2019 that the federal government’s “suspicious silence” about the crash led him to believe that there was foul play involved.

He said the fact that the helicopter fell upside-down was suspicious, but the SCT’s investigation appears to account for the unusual fall without finding any sinister intentions.

The report states that the rotor’s linear actuator had two loose screws, which caused it to roll to the left unexpectedly. The pilot probably had only about three seconds to correct the mistake.

Other contributing factors to the crash that Jiménez cited were an inadequate safety culture at the company that operated the helicopter, insufficient supervision of maintenance and operational procedures and an overworked pilot.

The evidence led investigators to believe that the company that operated the helicopter was fully aware that it was not in a condition to be adequately operated, but used it anyway.

“According to the equipment log, … [the helicopter] should not have been flown, it should have been on the ground. It’s a huge blunder,” said Jiménez.

Sources: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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