SICOFAA Recognizes Peruvian Air Force Wing for Flight Safety
By Dialogo December 03, 2015
The System of Cooperation among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA) recently recognized the Peruvian Air Force's (FAP) Group 3 for its excellent safety record for the fourth straight year.
Lieutenant General Rodolfo Garcia Esquerre, the FAP's operations commander, led the October 23-awards ceremony, where SICOFAA presented the Air Force with a safety award for completing more than 13,780 flight hours without an accident from September 25, 2012 to date. This span includes missions to fight drug trafficking, illegal mining, search and rescue operations, and flights supporting scientific research expeditions.
“This award represents the efforts of the pilots, mechanics, armorers – all of whom work tirelessly day after day and project the image of our Air Force to each zone where the population feels respect and admiration when they see the knights and dames of our Air Force fly through the air,” said Lieutenant Colonel Fredy Castro Vasquez, second-in-command for the FAP's Group 3.
“Likewise, we remain committed to preventing accidents, providing support, and rendering aid throughout the country and even beyond our borders if other countries in the region request assistance,” added Colonel Carlos Quiroz Infantes, Group 3's commander. “The missions can be conducted day or night, all throughout the year, by employing night-vision goggles and special operations.”
“The greatest challenge the unit faces is to complete all missions assigned to us while adhering to the highest standards of safety, to continue flying safely, as well as the safety of our personnel, the integrity of the material we carry, and above all, the safety of the personnel we transport in helicopters.”
SICOFAA is a voluntary apolitical organization made up of officers from the Air Forces of North and South America. Its purpose is to promote friendship and mutual support among members through cooperation during emergency situations.
A history of safety
This is the ninth time since 1978 in which FAP's Group 3 has received a safety award from SICOFAA, which presents an annual award to the aviation unit with the best accident prevention record over the previous year.
Group 3 consists of 350 members, both Military and civilian, and three Air Squadrons – the 332, 315, and 341. Each Squadron combines different systems, such as M17, MI71 SH, and B205 LS helicopters, among others. Since the Peruvian Military created Group 3 in June 1972, “it has completed more than 700,000 flight hours,” Col. Quiroz said in an interview with
Throughout the year, FAP's Group 3 members train to maximize the group's effectiveness and improve safety.
“The Group 3 training programs are carried out by the same Military unit; a few pilots at a time travel to schools and specialized centers in the United States” and other countries to train on flight simulators.
In addition to its commitment to preventing accidents, Group 3 has trained to respond to the El Niño phenomenon, a meteorological system that can lead to floods.
For example, on September 17, the FAP simulated an emergency air medical evacuation by dispatching two helicopters – a Bolkow and a Bell 2012 – from the Callao Air Base towards the Central Hospital of the FAP. The transported patients were lifted in strict compliance with rules for executing this sort of evacuation, according to the news website Perú.com.
Group 3 also supports scientific missions to the Antarctic region. Since January 1998, Group 3 personnel have transported research materials, provisions, scientists, authorities, and sensitive equipment to the Antarctic, since it's the only way to cover the great distances in that zone, which is home to complicated weather conditions.
“We have also had an opportunity to help countries in the region that have suffered natural disasters, as in Colombia, Bolivia, and Chile, and to participate in multinational exercises to protect citizens in the event of a catastrophe, like what happened in Chile last year,” Col. Quiroz concluded.