The Philippine National Police “PNP” have a total of three Robinson R44 helicopters, acquired in 2009. These consist of two Raven Is and one Raven II, and the PNP believed at the time that they were all being acquired factory-new. A big national controversy has been raised in recent weeks after it turned out that the two Raven Is were five years old with around 500 hours on each, and only the Raven II was recently from Torrance following the purchase in 2009. For at least part of their life up to then, the Raven Is had been operated by Lion Air, the only current Robinson distributor in the Philippines. Additional photo evidence shown below would suggest that the Raven Is are not police role-equipped, as no chin mount is evident.Â While we accept that it is feasible to remove the mount and still fly, it would seem unlikely that they would be ready to take to the air without one of the aircraft’s most important pieces of equipment available.
Philippine Senators Lacson and Teofisto Guingona III pressed for an investigation on the procurement after the supplier of the helicopters, Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp (known locally as “MAPTRA”) made it appear – with the knowledge of the PNP – that the R44s they delivered were new. The procurement was planned on May 8, 2009 and the deal awarded just two months later on July 9, 2009. He said that then PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa approved the supply contract worth P104.985 million – US$2.47M at today’s exchange rate. This could be a reasonable figure for three police-role Raven IIs including a range of non-standard extras, shipping and a generous spares package. However, with two aircraft apparently not being police-equipped and having flown 500 hours, the total comes under much closer scrutiny.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have confirmed that at least 30 police officers have been questioned regarding the procurement process.
The two Raven Is are currently registered RP-4250 and RP-4375. Under their previous ownership they were RP-C2781 (Robinson serial 1372) and RP-C2783 (1374) respectively. RP-4250 was manufactured on October 22, 2003 and reassembled in Philippines after shipping on March 4, 2004 and had flown 498.9 hours when purchased by the PNP. Similarly, RP-4375 was manufactured on November 19, 2003, was reassembled in Philippines on March 25, 2004 and had flown 536.3 hours. The Raven II is registered RP-2045, and is Robinson serial 12471, and Robinson Helicopter Co have confirmed to HeliHub.com that they supplied just one new police-equipped R44 Raven II to the Philippines within the three years of 2008-10 inclusive.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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