Kabba crash: AIB attributes incident to poor visibility caused by dust

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…report indicates Caverton failed to carryout site and safety risk assessment prior to flight

…. Caverton MD assures of safety compliance

The Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, says the helicopter crash at Kabba stadium in Kogi are as a result of the environment and poor handling of the flight by the operator.

The helicopter an Agusta westland AW139 carrying 12 persons including the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and his entourage and two crew members crashed on the 2nd of February this month while trying to land at the stadium.

At a news conference to release the preliminary report in to the crash, the AIB Commissioner, Engr. Akin Olateru said during landing of the helicopter, a brown out occurred which led to the pilot loss of visual contact with the ground.
He said the brown is the effects generated when an aircraft is trying to land in a dry, dusty environment.

“Brownout in helicopter operations is an in-flight visibility restriction caused by dust or sand in which the flight crew looses visual contact with nearby objects that provide the outside visual references necessary to control the helicopter near the ground”.

According to the AIB boss, “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”. After the RAD ALT15 Callout, neither the Co-Pilot nor the Captain could remember making or hearing further callouts”.

Th AIB commissioner explained that when this occurred the pilots took action to ensure nothing untoward happened.
“At about 14:34h, the helicopter experienced a hard landing on the right main landing gear and rolled over to the right. The Captain immediately shut the engines while the Co-Pilot shut off the fuel. The flight crew could remember executing the emergency landing procedures, which included switching off the battery and the generators”.

He explained that as being speculated that the cause of the crash was as a result of an “unusual weather conditions”, the weather during the time of the crash was very good as disclosed by the NAMA.

“According to the weather report obtained by Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the prevailing weather at the stadium was good (CAVOK).All persons on board were evacuated uninjured. The accident occurred in day time in an Instrument Meteorological Condition, IMC”.

Initial Findings according to Engr.Olateru was that Caverton Helicopters Limited did not conduct site survey of the landing field prior to this flight and did not carry out safety and risk assessment of the landing area prior to dispatch of the flight.

Two immediate safety recommendations were then issued to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to issue an Advisory Circular to all helicopter operators flying in Nigeria to be alert of the possibility and the effect of brownout and Appropriate procedures should be put in place to mitigate its effect(s).

For Caverton Helicopters Limited, the AIB says, it 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 an helicopter to unapproved landing pads.

The AIB helmsman disclosed that while investigation was still on-going,the full final report of the investigation would be released in a few months time to unravel the cause of the incident.

Reacting to the preliminary release of the crash report, the Managing Director, Caverton Helicopters Limited, Captain Josiah Choms in a statement assured they will continue to adhere strictly to safety procedures as required by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act and all other relevant local and international regulations across all their operations.

“we wish to assure the public of our unflinching commitment to the provision of safe and reliable air transport services”.

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