Bell 206 BIII helicopter that crashed four days ago in the Opebi area of Lagos where its wreckage was recovered has prompted Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to start gathering evidence in probing the crash.
The helicopter crash, which occurred last Friday, involved a Bell Helicopter 206-B III with Serial Number 3216 and Engine Model Allison 250–C20B.
The flight, which originated in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, crashed a few minutes before reaching its destination at the Lagos airport.
It was operated by Quorum Aviation.
AIB Chief Executive Officer/Commissioner Akin Olateru addressed reporters yesterday in Lagos on the agency’s efforts at probing the crash.
The agency chief said the absence of a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CvR), called the Black Box, will not affect the gathering of valuable evidence on the communication between the control tower and the crew that flew the ill-fated helicopter.
Olateru, who said the AIB had contacted the manufacturers of the helicopter as well as the engine manufacturer, added that a team of proficient investigators from the bureau was working round the clock to unravel the cause of the crash.
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“We have commenced investigation into the crash of the helicopter and can confirm that the wreckage has been recovered and in our custody. The AIB did not retrieve any flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder from the site of the crash. The Bell Helicopter, as a very light five-seater aircraft, does not meet the requirements to be fitted with such components. Only 10-seater helicopters carry flight data recorders.
“Though a flight data recorder would have aided our investigation, but it is not the only means of evidence gathering. The AIB, nevertheless, has competent personnel to retrieve information from other components and sources. The ill- fated chopper does not fall within the category, by law, regulation, weight and number of passengers it carries, to be fitted with either a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder,” he said.
Giving details about the crash, Olateru said: “On August 28, 2020, a Bell 206 BIII Helicopter with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQW, operated by Quorum Aviation Limited, started its engine at 09:15 hours.
“At 09:20 hours, the helicopter lifted off from Port Harcourt Military Airport (DNPM) for EAN Hanger, Lagos Airport.
“At 11:45 hours, the aircraft established contact with Lagos Tower, reporting maintaining 1,000 feet and estimating the station at 12:18 hours. In the ensuing communication, the pilot was advised of station weather.
“At 12:10 hours, the pilot reported sighting the airfield and was instructed by Air Traffic Controller (ATC) to report downwind for runway 18L. At 12:16 hours, the ATC tried unsuccessfully to establish contact with the aircraft.”