Lagos Helicopter Crash Preliminary Report Out In A Month- AIB

Yemisi Izuora

The Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, has assured that preliminary report on the crashed Quorum Aviation Limited Helicopter would be released in about a month.

The assurance is coming even when the agency said the Helicopter was not fitted with Flight Data Recorder (FDR), popularly known as the Black Box.

It assured that investigation into the crash would not be hampered.

AIB’s Commissioner, Mr. Akin Olateru at a press briefing disclosed that the preliminary report of the accident that claimed the lives of the pilot, Capt. Chika Prudence Ernest, the flight engineer, Clement Ndiok and fitter, Macaulay Brownson would be released in about a month.

He stated that despite the accident which is Nigeria’s first in five years, he said the country ranks as one of the safest in the world.

Olateru said all relevant stakeholders including the aircraft and engine manufacturers had been notified, just as he stated that the airplane type does not have the capability of jettisoning fuel.

This may have put to end speculations that the crew jettisoned aviation fuel, otherwise known as Jet A1 to prevent fire before crash.

The AIB chief clarified that the Bureau did not retrieve an FDR from the aircraft as the Bell 206 is certified at approximately 1,519kg (3,350lbs) and featured five seats, adding that it does not meet the necessary criteria for an FDR and was not featured with one.

He further disclosed that the standard requirement for an FDR in any aircraft is ten seats.

Flight Data Recorder (FDR) is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters. The purpose of an FDR is to collect and record data from a variety of aircraft sensors onto a medium designed to survive an accident.

His words, “An FDR on the aircraft would have aided the investigation but, nevertheless, our world class trained investigators are competent to retrieve information about a crash from the wreckage and several other components of the aircraft, the site of the crash, communication with the Air Traffic (ATC) and other documents on the aircraft and the crew”.

“It is extremely important to note that the aviation industry is the most regulated industry globally and its operations are regulated in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

“The installation and application of FDRs in aircraft is guided by ICAO Annex 6, Parts 1 and 2. The basic standards for both Parts are essentially similar. Part 1 applies to commercial aircraft while Part 2 is for non-commercial operations.”

From evidence gathered till date, Olateru reiterated that the crashed helicopter has a valid Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) till October 29, 2020 and Quorum Aviation has a valid Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) that will expire November 20,2020.

He pointed that investigations are currently ongoing; warning that conjecture at this stage is detrimental to the process.

He pointed out that accident investigation is in phases, adding that all procedures are performed in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2019 and the guidance of ICAO Annex 13.

He noted that the agency is at the stage of evidence gathering which is in line with the phases of accident investigation processes.

He implored the media and the public to trust AIB to be thorough and transparent in the investigation and await the formal report of findings and recommendations, which he said will be released after its conclusion.

“As investigation into the crash continues, AIB needs and hereby solicits for your assistance. We want the public to know that we would still be amenable to receiving any video clip, relevant evidence, or information any members of the public may have of the accident, and which can assist us further with this investigation”.

In recent years AIB has secured important collaborative agreements with other agencies and organizations, at home and abroad, to improve our efficiency and the safety of the Nigerian air space.

He commended and appreciated the role played by Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), the Nigerian Police Force, Fire Service and other law enforcement agencies for the role they played in securing the recent crash site and controlling the crowd at the scene.

AIB, he further noted recognizes the importance of these agencies as the first responders and reason they conducted several training sessions involving members of security agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, the Civil Defense Corps, and Federal Road Safety Corps, on the importance of securing crash sites so as to ensure that evidences are not tampered with.

In view of the role LASEMA played at the Bell 206-B3 crash site, he said AIB is looking at securing collaboration with the agency as a way of further strengthening the security at crash sites and of vital evidence that could aid our investigations.

The unfortunate and fatal accident which occurred on Friday, 28 August, 2020, involved a Bell Helicopter 206-B III, Serial Number 3216, Engine Model Allison 250–C20B with the Nationality registration Marks 5N-BQW operated by Quorum Aviation.

The flight originated in Port Harcourt with Lagos as its intended destination.

Explaining the flight history, Olateru said AIB was notified of the crash of a helicopter in the Opebi area of Lagos State at about 12:19 pm on 28th August 2020.

“An investigation team was mobilized to the crash site shortly afterwards. The following information has been obtained as at today: On 28th August 2020, a Bell 206 B III helicopter with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQW, operated by Quorum Aviation Limited, started its engine at 09:15 h. At 0920 h, the helicopter lifted off from Port Harcourt Military Airport (DNPM) for EAN Hanger, Lagos Airport”.

“At 11:45h, the aircraft established contact with Lagos Tower, reporting maintaining 1000 ft and estimating the station at 12:18 h. In the ensuing communication, the pilot was advised of station weather”.

“At 12:10 h, the pilot reported sighting the airfield and was instructed by ATC, to report downwind for runway 18L. At 12:16h, the ATC tried unsuccessfully to establish contact with the aircraft. At 12:36h, ATC was informed of the crash of the helicopter by MMF02, a MMIA fire station”.

“At the crash site, two bodies were recovered. A third occupant was evacuated but died later in the hospital. The aircraft wreckage was also recovered and now in the custody of the Bureau. We have been receiving cooperation from Quorum Aviation Ltd, the owners and operator of the ill-fated aircraft”.

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