THE Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigeria, today reacted to what it has described as unsubstantiated claims made by the operator of the crashed Bell 206B helicopter – Quorum Aviation Limited stating that it stands by facts as presented in the report released yesterday.
The AIB had in its initial findings released Monday September 21, 2020 revealed that the Bell 206b helicopter had no capacity to jettisoning fuel but there was no fuel left in the fuel tanks after the crash even after the helicopter was topped to full tank capacity on 27th August, 2020 at Port Harcourt.
The report also indicated that there was no evidence showing that the pilot had applied for exemption provided by the NCAA’s All Operators’ Letter AOL DG020/20 neither was there evidence of an application for the exemption provided by the AOL DG018/20 for proficiency check
However, Quorum had released a statement with documentation to the media, documentation which has been rejected by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stating the airline carries no mark of authentication of the CAA according to the latest AIB statement.Read also: Quorum Aviation releases August 18th dated letter to NCAA requesting pilot’s exemption
The AIB in a reaction to that statement said, “The attention of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigeria, has been drawn to some insinuations in the public domain, following the release of the Preliminary Report on the accident involving a Bell 206B helicopter, which occurred in Ikeja, Lagos on 28 August, 2020.
“This activity has apparently been initiated because of unsubstantiated claims made by the Operator – Quorum Aviation Limited.
“It is important to state that the objective of our investigations is to improve Aviation safety by determining the cause(s) and contributory factor(s) of an occurrence and to issue targeted safety recommendations to forestall future reoccurrence of such accidents or incidents.
“In accordance with the Civil Aviation Act 2006 and Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, AIB investigation shall not apportion blame or assist in determining liability.
“It is also important to note that AIB does not authenticate documents with the affected Operator but with the Regulatory body – the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is the custodian of all the certificates.
On the preliminary findings, the AIB states that according to the news circulating in the public media, Quorum Aviation Ltd, the operator of the ill-fated helicopter, faulted a portion of the preliminary report which stated that there was no evidence of submission of an application for exemption to the regulatory body by the Operator. Read also: No fuel found in Quorum Helicopter tank after crash says AIB preliminary report
“The Bureau had stated, in the preliminary report, that the pilot’s proficiency was valid till 24 August 2020, four days before the crash, while the medical certificate of the pilot expired on 06 August 2020.
“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 or 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.
“However, 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”.”
The AIB further explained that as a professional and responsible organization, it would not normally respond to these distractions, but the need to protect the integrity of its investigation has made it imperative in this case.
“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.
“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.
“The Bureau, as a matter of principle, does not join issues with the Airlines it investigates. It is the Bureau’s duty to focus on how to improve Aviation safety through well conducted, timely and quality investigations.”
“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.
“We are currently focused on unearthing the cause(s) of this crash which is the first Air transport fatality recorded in Nigeria in over 4 years.”