The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has described the rebuttal issued by Quorum Aviation Limited following the preliminary report of its recently crashed Bell 206B helicopter in Lagos as unsubstantiated.
In the statement released by the bureau, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, it stated that as a professional and responsible organization, AIB would not normally respond to these distractions, but the need to protect the integrity of our investigation has made it imperative in this case.
The Bureau had stated, in the preliminary report, that the pilot’s proficiency of the crashed helicopter was valid till 24 August 2020, four days before the crash, while the medical certificate of the pilot expired on 06 August 2020.
However, the operator of the crashed helicopter stated on Monday, September 21, 2020, that a letter was written and sent to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) following a correspondence referenced NCAA/DOT/GEN012/20/002.
The bureau, according to its statement said “The letter, purportedly written to the NCAA by the Operator and released to the public, does not bear any of the normal markers of a letter which has passed through the official process of the Regulatory body. It has no official stamps nor proof of receipt by the NCAA.
“Furthermore, the Operator has not shown the response of the NCAA to this purported application, nor have they tendered evidence of the approval of their request for extension/ exemption.”
Consequently, the NCAA in her response to AIB’s enquiry on the subject states that, “The Authority does not have in its record any evidence that the deceased or his employer applied for the exemption provided for by the AOL (DG18/20) and AOL (DG20/20) before the accident occurred on the 28th of August, 2020”.
AIB further noted that “The onus is on the Operator to prove that its purported letter was appropriately received by the NCAA, and that the relevant approval was obtained”
The statement also stated the significance attached to the mandate of the bureau and that aircraft accident investigation is a serious matter and AIB, as the Federal Government agency charged with this responsibility, is a very thorough and professional body.
“AIB conducts a thorough and transparent investigation process, which entails working closely with several stakeholders including the manufacturer of the aircraft, Engine manufacturer, the State of design, the Civil Aviation Regulatory bodies, the Air Navigation Service Providers, the Aerodrome operators, the affected aircraft operator and other law enforcement agencies” the statement stated.
According to the statement the bureau is now focused on unearthing the cause(s) of the crash which is the first Air transport fatality recorded in Nigeria in over 4 years.
Reiterating the fact in the preliminary report, the statement indicated that” It is imperative to note that Preliminary reports only contain details of the initial facts, discussions, inspection of the accident site and the wreckage and findings surrounding the occurrences, so far gathered.
“The ill-fated helicopter had departed Port Harcourt Military Airport en-route Lagos but crashed a few minutes before reaching its destination, leaving the pilot and two other occupants fatally injured
“Preliminary investigations reveal, among other things, that there was no fuel in the helicopter’s tanks even as the helicopter had no fuel jettisoning capability”.