The commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau, (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, (middle) flanked by director, human resources and administration, AIB, Mr. Dalhatu Kakangi, (left) and director of engineering, AIB, Mr. Mohammed Wali at media briefing on the preliminary report on the helicopter accident involving the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, his entourage and three crew members -captain, co-pilot and an engineer, in Kabba, Kogi State.
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Wednesday, February 13 released an interim report on the Caverton Helicopters crash involving an Agusta Westland AW139 helicopter at Kabba Stadium, Kogi State on February 2 with 12 persons including the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, his entourage and three crew members -captain, co-pilot and an engineer on board.
Speaking while releasing the preliminary report at its headquarters in Lagos, the Commissioner of AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, said that Caverton Helicopters, operator of the aircraft marked 5N-CML neither conducted site survey of the landing field prior to the flight nor carry out safety and risk assessment of the landing area prior to dispatch of the flight.
Olateru explained that the helicopter departed Abuja runway 22 for Kabba, Kogi State on a VIP chartered flight Nigeria 002 (NGR002), on a Visual Flight Rule (VFR) Flight Plan adding that prior to the crash, another helicopter operated by Nigeria Police Force (Bell 412; 5N-PEJ) had landed.
Although the approach was normal, the crew lost visual contact with the ground due to a brownout, a dusty condition generated during landing in a dry environment, the Commissioner stated.
According to him: “Another helicopter, (Bell 412) with nationality and registration marks 5N-PEJ operated by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) conveying the advance party, established radio communication with NGR002 just before the MPFR failed.
The police helicopter landed in the stadium at 14:30 h ahead of NGR002.
The crew of NGR002 stated that they sighted the stadium as a result of the brown dust generated by the downwash of the police helicopter main rotor. The crew further stated that the approach was normal.
After identifying the stadium, both flight crew members agreed on the selected landing spot within the stadium. The NGR002 got into hover to land and at 50 ft above ground level, a brownout set in.
The crew lost visual contact with the ground and elected to use the Instantaneous Vertical Speed Indicator (IVSI) and Radio Altimeter (RAD ALT) to control the descent. The co-pilot began RAD ALT Callouts ‘35, 30, 25, 20 and 15”.
The AIB Commissioner continued that: “After the RAD ALT 15 Callout, neither the co- pilot nor the captain could remember making or hearing further callouts. At about 14:34 h, the helicopter experienced a hard landing on the right main landing gear and rolled over to the right.
The helicopter touched down hard on the right main landing gear and rolled over to the right. All occupants of the helicopter were evacuated uninjured. The helicopter was substantially damaged.”
In the interim report, AIB made two immediate safety recommendations, one for NCAA and the other for Caverton Helicopters.
AIB recommended that: “NCAA should issue an Advisory Circular to all helicopter operators flying in Nigeria to be alert of the possibility and the effect of brownout. Appropriate procedures should be put in place to mitigate its effect(s).
Caverton Helicopters Limited should ensure that flight operations are carried out in accordance with the company’s approved operations manual, vis-à-vis site survey and proper safety risk analysis are done before dispatching any helicopter to unapproved landing pads.”