The Curse of the Nomad

The widowmaker tag
January 29, 2010

By Jorge Cariño and Ricky Carandang

MANILA, Philippines - The Australian-made Nomad bush plane that crashed Thursday morning in Cotabato City, killing all 8 passengers on board, has had a problematic history.

Nomads were first built in Australia in the 1970s for short trips. Production was discontinued in 1995 after reports that the plane was unsafe because of numerous design flaws, including a tendency to develop stress cracks when flying.

The problems were detailed in a 2004 report by the Australian Broadcasting Company. (Transcript of report here)

According to the ABC report, first broadcast on the program 7.30 Report on July 27, 2004, the plane was nicknamed the “Widowmaker” after 19 of them crashed over a 20-year period, causing 56 deaths.

The ABC report told the story of an Australian aircraft fitter named Michael Paul who discovered the design flaws as far back as 1989.

But when he reported the problems to his superiors, he was threatened with disciplinary action.

Paul kept quiet until 1991 when a Nomad carrying a friend crashed in Australia. Paul committed suicide in 2004.

The ABC story became known in Australia as the Nomad Scandal.

As recently as November 2009, a Nomad owned by the Indonesian Navy crashed in East Kalimantan province.

The Philippine Air Force had 4 Nomads, including the one that crashed today. They were acquired in 1975.

Prior to Thursday’s accident, the last accident involving a Nomad in the Philippines was when a plane flying to Tawi-Tawi experienced problems.

In July 2000, another Nomad plane crashed off the Palawan coast. Among the victims was the then-Commander of the Armed Forces' Western Command, Gen. Santiago Madrid.

Aside from an investigation into the latest incident, the PAF is also prioritizing the welfare of the family of the victims. The remains of the victims are now being prepared to be brought to Manila as of posting.


  1. Intriguing, so the plane can be used for eliminating potential rivals...

  2. Please see attached link it the web page for the AFP Modernization. Lets vote for Philippine Air Force to be the prioty of the AFP Modernization this has been long overdue.