Crashed Helicopter Has Valid Certificate of Airworthiness, Says AIB


Chinedu Eze

The Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N) has confirmed that the Bell 206-B 111 helicopter, which crashed last Friday in Lagos has a valid Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) till October 29, 2020 and that the company, Quorum Aviation, which operated the equipment, has a valid Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) that would expire on November 20, 2020.

The Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of AIB-N, Akin Olateru who addressed journalists at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, yesterday, explained that the reasons for the press briefing was to correct many erroneous information about the crash.

He regretted that this is the first accident with fatalities in Nigeria since the last five years.

Olateru also assured that the preliminary report of the accident would be released in four weeks.

He said that investigations are currently ongoing, adding that conjectures at this stage would be detrimental to the investigation process.

Olateru added that accident investigation is carried out in phases, clarifying also 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.

The flight was operated by the Bell Helicopter 206-B III with Serial Number 3216, Engine Model Allison 250–C20B with the nationality registration Marks 5N-BQW.

It is owned by Quorum Aviation and originated from Port Harcourt NAF Base but within few minutes to landing, it crashed into a building at Opebi, Ikeja.

Olateru said he was aware of the speculations circulating on social media and other public fora with regards to the probable cause of the crash and AIB’s retrieval of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), popularly known as the Black Box.

He however clarified that AIB-N did not retrieve any FDR from the aircraft as the Bell 206 is certified at approximately 1,519kg (3,350lbs) and featured five seats.

He added that it did not meet the necessary criteria for an FDR and was not featured with one.

“The standard requirement for an FDR in any aircraft is 10 seats. 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 Organisation (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.

“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 ATC, and other documents on the aircraft and the crew,” he explained.

Reacting to speculations that the pilot jettisoned fuel before landing, the AIB commissioner stated that the aircraft type does not have the capability to jettison fuel.

Olateru also disclosed the latest information obtained about the crashed chopper.

“At 11:45hours, the aircraft established contact with Lagos Tower, reporting maintaining 1,000 feet and estimating the station at 12:18 hour. In the ensuing communication, the pilot was advised of station weather.

“At 12:10 hour, the pilot reported sighting the airfield and was instructed by Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), to report downwind for runway 18L and 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.”

The Commissioner assured that all relevant stakeholders have been notified, including the aircraft and engine manufacturers and urged the media and the public to trust AIB, which is usually thorough and transparent in accident investigation.

He also urged Nigerians to await the formal report of findings and recommendations, which would be released after the conclusion of the investigation.

Olateru who commended the role played by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) by securing the crash site, said the Bureau intended to collaborate with the Lagos state agency for further strengthening of the security at crash sites in order to secure vital evidence that could aid investigations.

“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-N has secured important collaborative agreements with other agencies and organisations, at home and abroad, to improve our efficiency and the safety of the Nigerian air space.

“I would like to appreciate 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,” he said.