Monday, February 15, 2016 6:55 pm
The AIB’s Commissioner, Mr Felix Abali, disclosed this on Monday while giving an update on the incident to aviation correspondents in Lagos.
The Sikorsky S76 C helicopter, marked 5N-BQJ, belonging to Bristow Helicopters, enroute Lagos from an off shore location ditched into the ocean on Feb.3
All the 11 passengers on board, including two crew members, were rescued alive.
Abali said the bureau was determined to carry out a thorough investigation in order to unravel the cause of the incident and forestall future occurrence.
“We will take the blackboxes to the UK because we do not have the cabling to download them here in the country.
“When it comes to accident investigation, you have to do a thorough job. You have to get the facts to prevent another accident from occurring,’’ he said.
The commissioner said the representatives of the manufacturer of the aircraft were denied visas to Nigeria, saying this had delayed the AIB’s investigation into the incident.
According to him, the preliminary report on the investigation cannot be concluded without interacting with the Sikorsky representatives.
Abali said the bureau’s investigations so far had revealed that the crew declared May Day twice before the chopper was ditched into the ocean.
He said: “The first was declared by the crew at the 78 Nautical Miles from Lagos complaining of instrument problems.
“The aircraft descended from 3000 feet to 1500 feet. At this time the Flying Officer (FO) was the Pilot Flying (PF).
“The Captain took over control expecting to stabilize the helicopter but the aircraft was not responding to control inputs.
“She declared the second May Day to the Radio Operator at the offshore platform which was relayed to the ATC by two separate aircraft.
“One aircraft was following the communication and relayed the ditching, which occurred at 10. 20 a.m. at 29 Nautical Miles away from the platform,’’ he said.
According to him, after their rescue, the crew was met on arrival by AIB at the Eko Support Quay where they were eventually transferred to Lagoon Hospital, Lagos Island.
“Toxicological tests were administered on the crew, which proved negative of any substance abuse. One passenger was interviewed.
“The aircraft was recovered from the accident site on Feb. 5, ferried onshore and transferred on a articulated vehicular (trailer) to a storage warehouse.
“Initial field investigation was carried out by AIB and vital components relevant to the investigation including FDR/CVR and the Cockpit Image Recorder were retrieved for further investigation.
“Manufacturer’s representatives are still being expected as we are carrying out the investigation along with them,’’ the commissioner said.
Abali noted that further investigation would focus on the aircraft controls with avionics interface, while the crew, maintenance personnel and others relevant to the investigation would also be interviewed.
He said maintenance records, including Technical Logs would also be examined, adding that Bristow Helicopter was cooperating with AIB in this regard.