Aircraft company Hornbill Skyways had history of crashes

"</p© Provided by The Malay Mail Online File picture of an Eurocopter AS 350B2 helicopter. PETALING JAYA, May 7 — Kuching-based Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd has recorded several ill-fated incidents in the past.Established in May 1977, the company had its first flight in March the following year with a starting fleet of one fixed-wing Cessna 421 and two Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopters.

In 1985, the company was taken over by Yayasan Sarawak and the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation, via share acquisition.It now operated from Kuching International Airport and maintains a hangar in Miri for north Sarawak.

On July 30, 1993, a Shorts SC7 Skyvan 3-100 aircraft belonging to the company made an emergency landing in Long Loyang on approaching Marudi Airport. The plane, with 17 passengers and two crew members, crash-landed in a football field due to severe weather. One passenger died in the incident.

On July 17, 2003, one of its Bell 206 helicopter crashed into Gunung Murud after departing from a timber camp. Both on board the chopper, Borneo Evangelical Church leader Pastor Kalip Basar, 49, and pilot Capt Gabriel Ujie, 39, died.

There were three other crashes between 2004 and 2005.

On July 12, 2004, a Bell 206L4 helicopter crashed into the jungle while heading to Ba’kelalan from Bario. The seven people on the aircraft — assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Datuk Judson Sakal Tagal, Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation chief executive officer Roger Wong, the company’s general manager Jason Eng, regional manager Ling Kian Ho, Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lawrence Th’ng, contractor Datuk Marcus Raja and pilot Capt Samsuddin Hassim — were all killed.

Barely two months later, another one of its helicopters — a Bell 206 Long Ranger — crashed into the jungle near an oil palm plantation some 112km from Kuching. The four on board who died were Bettie Alek, the private secretary to then-deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu; Awang Iskandar Awang Anwar, the personal bodyguard of then-Natural Resources and Environment minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, freelance photographer Yong Khian Liong and pilot Capt Abang Ibrahim Abang Ismail.

Following the incident, the government suspended all Hornbill Skyways flights.

On July 25, 2005, a Bell 206 helicopter crashed at Bukit Batu Tiban near the Sarawak-West Kalimantan border, killing three out of the four on board. They deceased were Malaysian Mapping and Survey Department officer Ramli Jamal, Cpl Empeni Karong and pilot Capt Razali Sani.

Ramli’s colleague Razali Hassan survived. He spent four days near the site, surviving on biscuits and water and slept on the helicopter’s backseat before he was rescued. – Malay Mail Online

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