Image of wreckage disproves government denial over firefighting chopper crash

The confusion of reporting Portugal’s wildfires saw official sources deny a helicopter had crashed combatting flames in Alijó 10 days ago.

But the Office of Prevention and Investigation of aircraft accidents (GPIAAF) has since published a photo that leaves no room for doubt – making it clear the government wanted to “smother” the incident, as media reports have been suggesting.

According to Lusa 10 days ago, the pilot made an “emergency landing” touching down in “a controlled way”.

But according to GPIAAF’s report, the Everjets chopper, registration OE-XPP, was totally destroyed and the pilot injured – fortunately not seriously.

In a report freely available on its site, the entity explains that the pilot ran into difficulties operating his ‘bambi bucket’ as he approached a reservoir to “perform water replenishment”.

“Some moments later, the aircraft became unstable…despite the pilot’s attempt to recover stability, the helicopter ended up rotating on its vertical axis, with the rotor blades hitting the water”.

It was at this point that the chopper “touched the ground and rolled to its right, staying immobilised at the edge of the dam”.

“The pilot managed to get out by himself through the left door, with no major injuries just a few

“He was later transported to a local hospital for a check-up and then released”.

Presented with this very different picture of the incident, the Ministry of Internal Administration is reported to have “not wanted to pronounce on the situation”.

In a note submitted to TSF radio, the ministry referred all press queries to Civil Protection.

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