The Accident Investigation Bureau had laid to rest speculations surrounding the recently crashed Bell 206-B III Helicopter with registration number 5N-BQW and appealed to the public to desist from speculations that may hamper proficient investigation by their investigators.
Speaking Tuesday in Lagos, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Bureau,Engr Akin Olateru said the aircraft in question does not have a Flight Deck Recorder (FDR); popularly known as Black box or a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) as against speculations in different fora.
” We are 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.
“We would like to clarify that AIB did not retrieve an FDR from the aircraft as the Bell 206 is certified at approximately 1,519kg (3,350lbs) and featured five seats. It does not meet the necessary criteria for an FDR and was not featured with one. The standard requirement for an FDR in any aircraft is ten seats.” Olateru said.
While assuring the public of a thorough investigation of which the preliminary report will be out in few weeks, the bureau chief relayed the communication that transpired between the crew and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) from start-up to crash.
According to the commissioner, the helicopter had engine start up at 09:15HRS and airborne at 09:20HRS, destination been Lagos airport.
He further stated that at 11:45HRS, the Bell 206 aircraft established contact with Lagos ATC reporting flying at 1000ft above sea level and Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of 12:18HRS. The ATC however advised the crew of the station’s weather.
At 12:10HRS, according to the chief, the pilot in command reported sighting the airfield and was instructed by the ATC to report downwind for runway 18L.
However at 12:16HRS,according to Olateru, the ATC lost contact with the helicopter and was informed of the crash at 12:36 by Murtala Mohammed International Airport’s fire station (MMF02)
“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”. Olateru said.
Reiterating the nature of the industry been a well regulated one, the AIB chief said “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 Organization (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.”
It was gathered that the helicopter operator, Quorum Aviation, has valid Certificate of Airworthiness(C of A) and Air Operators Certificate (AOC) which will expire October 29th, 2020 and November 20th, 2020 respectively.
AIB assured that the investigation is ongoing and also noted that accident investigation is in phases and 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.
Olateru said the bureau is at the stage of evidence gathering which is in line with the phases of accident investigation processes.