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Saturday, February 27, 2016

RMAF CN235 Crash

Yesterday (26 Feb 2016), an RMAF CN235 light transport aircraft had crashed landed in the waters off Kuala Selangor.  All pilots and crew-members survived, but an unfortunate rescuer had passed away, believed to be due to heart condition.  Condolence to the family of the rescuer, Encik Abu Hassan Abdul Latif, 57 who had passed away.

RMAF CN235 with registration number M44-05
Credit to and RMAF
A photo that has been circulated to be believed that of late Encik Abu Hassan Abdul Latif
Credit - Facebook of Kuala Selangor Official

The crash is the first crash involving the plane for RMAF, in service since 1998.  The Govt had purchased 8 units of this CASA IPTN Digantara-made CN235 for RMAF use.  The purchase, as claimed by former Minister of Information, Zainuddin Maidin, was fraught with controversy and was a decision made by former DPM, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.  The purchase was said to be for diplomatic purpose, ie to enhance Malaysia - Indonesia diplomatic relationship.  The deal was said to be fraught with controversy as the Govt had purchased 8 units, but only 6 units had been delivered.  You may read Zainuddin Maidin's claim here.

I hate to say this, but the purchase of CN235 is a smart move by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.  Those who had followed my blog from the past will see how much I dislike this politician.  But credit must be given when it is due.  CN235 purchase was a smart purchase.

(Note: some pointed out the purchase was signed much earlier, in 1995, when Datuk Seri Najib was the Defence Minister.)

Even Zainuddin Maidin's claim that only 6 units were delivered does not hold much water.  While I do not know how many of this birds are in RMAF order of battle, I believe all 8 units were delivered, and 2 units are likely to have been sacrificed for as spare parts.

Screenshot of RMAF ORBAT, as taken from wikipedia.  Note that there are quite a few planes being marked as VIP transport, including the CN235.  CN235 was not used in VIP transport, but as light transport aircraft.
That is the unfortunate state of RMAF.  Due to the Govt's weird and foolish policy of purchasing token number of military equipment for RMAF, the RMAF had been unable to operate their fleet efficiently and effectively.  Not to forget the very negative effect of buying planes from different countries that had resulted in logistical nightmare.

Yes, due to Govt's unfortunate policy, RMAF always gets this kind of comments.

I believe CN235 in RMAF's service was in the role of transport plane for our 10th Paratrooper Brigade.  I recalled seeing many photos of CN235 dropping our paratroopers in the late 90's, soon after it was purchased.  These days, CN235 are being used mostly in the role of maritime patrol aircraft, the plane's speed being very suitable for slow loitering and observation.  In fact, latest iteration of the plane is CN295 MPA, which I believe RMAF and RMN should consider looking into for their requirement to have a full-fledged Maritime Patrol Aircraft (see my article on this here)
CN235 General Characteristic as found in Wiki

Despite the made-in-Indonesia origin that had been laughed off by some Malaysians (some Malaysians do have very strong superiority complex), the plane is a very rugged plane.  I have personally seen how an RMAF CN235 practiced hard landing and short take-off from Sibu airport while I was waiting for my flight to KL.  In fact, the plane that crashed landed in Kuala Selangor are largely intact, a testament to Indonesia's ability to build strong, rugged aircraft.

RMAF CN235 that crashed landed.  It is unclear which of the 8 that had crashed landed.
Considering the difficulties faced by RMAF in maintaining its fleet, I must tip off my hat to all RMAF aircraft engineers and crews for being able to maintain and run RMAF.  In fact, they had been doing a very good job as they had zero-crash since the Genting - Sempah tragedy.  

With the fleet (of CN235) now nearly reaching 20 years of service, RMAF too will be facing another round of block obsolesce.  Let's hope the Govt will wake up to this reality (was made to understand that the Minister of Defence, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is well aware of this issue but is unable to act as his hands are tied by Ministry of Finance). 

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