Semenyih helicopter tragedy: Pilot, copter had been certified fit to fly - transport minister

PUTRAJAYA - The helicopter which crashed in Semenyih on Saturday, killing all six on board including the political ally and the private secretary of Prime Minister Najib Razak, had been certified airworthy in February.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the AS365 (9M-IGB) Dauphin 2 helicopter had undergone aircraft maintenance on Jan 29 this year followed by a flight test on Feb 9.

"The aircraft had a valid certificate of airworthiness under Private Category which was last renewed on Feb 14 and valid until Feb 8, 2016.

"It had a clean bill of health," Liow told a press conference.

He said the aircraft was manufactued in 1990 by Airbus Helicopters or formerly known as Eurocopter France.

"As for the pilot, Clifford William Fournier Jr, he had held a valid licence rated for this type of aircraft since 2012.

"He had been flying since 2002 (and had a total of) nearly 13 years experience," said Liow.

The helicopter carrying Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, an MP and former ambassador to the United States, Mr Azlin Alias, private secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, and four others exploded in mid-air and crashed in Semenyih, Kajang, on Saturday en route to Subang from Kuantan.

The charred bodies of the six victims were found by the Fire and Rescue Department personnel at 8.15pm.

Said Liow at the press conference on Sunday: "The pilot stuck to the approved flight path throughout the journey, starting from Kuantan to Rompin, then Kajang and then to its intended destination Subang.

"So we hope people do not speculate on what happened and wait until the investigation is completed," said Liow.

Liow said at no point during the flight did Fournier issue a distress call, adding that unlike airplane pilots, helicopters do not need to be in constant communication with air traffic controllers (ATC), except in the event of an emergency.