The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, has suspended the operations of Bristow Helicopters Sikorsky S-76C++ aircraft type following the accident on Wednesday where the helicopter was ditched on top of the high sea.
Speaking during a press briefing today in Lagos, the director general of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman stated that the Regulatory Authority views with utmost seriousness the successive mishaps of Bristow Helicopters’ operating aircraft SikorskyS-76C++ on the coastal waters of Lagos.
The NCAA boss noted that the decisions are without prejudice to the investigations being conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, but it will assist in the entire process, adding that the Authority will fully support AIB in the investigation.
In his words, “on the heels of the Bristow Helicopters’ controlled ditching on Wednesday , 3rd February, 2016. I consider it expedient to communicate to you certain decisions that the Authority has taken concerning the incident”.
He continued that: “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA has therefore decided to suspend the operation of the Bristow Helicopters Limited’s Sikorsky S-76C++ type till further notice. This suspension will enable the Authority carry out a full scale audit on its operations with particular emphasis on its Sikorsky S-76C++ type.”
He further explained that Sikorsky S-76 aircraft is an American medium – size commercial utility helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation with twin turbo shaft engines; four-bladed main and tail rotors and a retractable landing gear.
He emphasised that Sikorsky’s development began in the mid-1970s with the design goal of providing a medium helicopter for corporate transportation and the oil drilling industry.
The prototype first flew on March 13, 1977, while initial United States Federal Aviation Administration type certification was granted on November 21, 1978. If you may recall, in August, 2015, a Bristow Helicopter operated Sikorsky S-76 series crashed around Oworonshoki axis in Lagos, he said.
“What this means is that yesterday’s incident is occurring a little over six months after the preceding one. Therefore as a responsible Regulatory Authority, it is important to stem this rapidity of occurrence and ensure the airline carry out safe operations. I must also mention that this suspension of operations for the impending wholesale audit is not a vote of no confidence on the airline. It is to ascertain the adequacy and propriety of the operating aircraft type. This is not new in the industry, it is one of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) all over the world”, Usman said.
He reiterated that the NCAA will continue to ensure that the airline operators continue to carry out safe and secure operations.