TWELVE days after the helicopter conveying the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo to Kabba, Kogi State crashed, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB)has issues two safety recommendations even as investigations are ongoing, one to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the other to Caverton Helicopters to immediately implement to forestall a repeat of certain situations noted while investigating.
On the safety recommendations made to the NCAA and the aircraft operators Caverton, Safety Recommendation 2019-002 insists that the NCAA should issue an Advisory Circular to all Helicopter operators flying in Nigeria to be alert to the possibility and effect of Brownstone and appropriate procedures should be put in place to mitigate its effect(s).
While Safety Recommendation 2019-003 issued to Caverton Helicopters stated that the operator should ensure that flight operations are carried out in accordance with the company’s approved operations manual visavis, the survey and proper safety risk analysis are done before dispatching any flight to unapproved landing posts.
The Bureau also released the preliminary accident report with seventeen (17) initial findings among which was the occurrence of a brownout while landing.
Brownout in helicopter operations is an in-flight visibility restriction caused by dust or sand in which the flight crew loses visual contact with nearby objects that provide the outside visual references necessary to control the helicopter near the ground.
The AIB Commissioner, Engineer Akin Olateru who released the preliminary report, said among the seventeen initial findings that the airline Caverton, did not conduct site survey of the landing field prior to flight and did not carry out a safety and risk assessment of the landing area prior to the dispatch of the flight.
The initial findings also indicated that the bureau could not conduct drug and alcohol tests on the pilots and according to the weather report obtained from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), the prevailing conditions were good but that the aircraft hovered to land in a brown out condition.
Olateru however, said the conclusive report will make a lot of other areas clearer especially after analysis of data from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) information and the Flight data Recorder (FDR) as well as analysis of data from the Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) and Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) coupled with interviews from witnesses and further inspection of the crash site.