Dateline: Lagos, 30 August, 2017.
Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) today released the final report of the Bell 427 helicopter crash involving a Deputy Inspector General of Police and three other persons onboard, which occurred in Jos, Plateau State on March 14, 2012.
The Bureau also released the final report on the serious incident involving a Tampico TB-9 aircraft belonging to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and a Bulletin on the ground collision incident involving two aircraft belonging to Air Peace Airlines at the apron of the General Aviation Terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos on 20th April, 2017.
AIB in its report released today at its headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos stated that although the cause of the helicopter crash could not be conclusively determined, some discrepancies and non-compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) in the operations of the Police aircraft were, however, discovered.
Engr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner of AIB who read out the reports to aviation journalists also said that both the simulator recurrency of the pilot and his medical had expired as at the time of the accident. The co-pilot of the ill-fated crash was also not type-rated on the helicopter type.
Besides, the investigation revealed that the engineer that released the aircraft prior to the flight had no type-training and type rating on the aircraft type.
The helicopter crash occurred at Kabong, Jos South Local Government Area, Plateau State on March 14, 2012.
He added: “The helicopter 5N-POL was operated by the NPF (Nigeria Police Force) and was registered under the private category with the NCAA. All relevant stakeholders were notified.
“On Tuesday 13th March, 2012, the flight originated from Abuja airport to Jos Prison Service football field as a ferry flight. The purpose of the flight was to convey the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations from Jos to Abuja. The aircraft had initial contact with Jos Control Tower at 1350hrs en-route and reported ETA to be 1400hrs.
“The following day, 14th March 2012 at 0930hrs, a police fuel bowser that had arrived Jos from Abuja the previous day, fuelled the aircraft which had been parked overnight at the Jos Prison football field. At 0958hrs, two-way communication was established between the helicopter and the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).
“At about 1150hrs, the helicopter lifted up with four persons on board including the DIG. The Control Tower was notified at about 1155hrs of the helicopter’s crash at Landir village, Kabong area near Jos metropolis and that all four persons on board were fatally injured. The accident occurred in daylight at a coordinate of N09°55.229, E008°51.853.”
AIB in its safety recommendations, called on the Nigeria Police to provide the proper funding, conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its technical or operational personnel, with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety.
It also recommended that NCAA should ensure that NPF Air-Wing complies with its Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) requirements while NCAA and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) should launch an independent inquiry into aviation fuel quality in the country.
He added: “The resulting report should focus on the vulnerability and risk of each step in the distribution process. This should yield firmer regulatory oversight mechanism that ensures international quality of aviation fuels used in Nigeria.”
Besides, Olateru in another report involving a Tampico TB 9 aircraft of NCAT with the registration 5N-CBC, which occurred at Zaria aerodrome, Kaduna State on October 6, 2008, said that the causal factor of the crash was the inability of the student pilot to maintain directional control of the aircraft after touchdown.
The report also attributed the crash to the student pilot’s loss of concentration while retracting the flap and trimming the aircraft during the landing roll preparatory to the next take-off.
It also attributed fatigue of the student to the crash, saying that the student had already done six landings with the instructor and four solo landings the same day.
AIB in its safety recommendations said that BEA (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile) should propose to the aircraft manufacturer - SOCATA of France to incorporate a ‘gate detent’ position in the flap control knob assembly.
The report said that this would make proper flap selections easier during aircraft operations, stressing that NCAA should ensure that flying instructors checking out students on solo flight must at all times be at the control tower to monitor the progress of the flight.
It also recommended that NCAT should procure equipment and train relevant personnel to conduct toxicological examination in its Aero Medical facility.
He added: “On final approach, he had good attitude and airspeed control. The aircraft touched down around the first intersection about 600m from the runway 24 threshold, skidded, and veered off the centre line of the runway to the right.
AIB also made four safety recommendations on the ground collision incident involving two Air Peace aircraft at the apron wing of the Lagos Airport.
The two aircraft were Boeing 737-500 with the registration numbers 5N-BQR and Boeing 737-300 with registration number 5N-BQP, which occurred on April 20, 2017 at the airport.
The report said that the decision of the Captain to reposition the aircraft without requesting for a push-back, maneuvering the aircraft without the aid of Marshallers by relying on the company’s engineers who are inexperienced wing walkers were some of the factors responsible for the incident.
Other factors according to AIB are the decision of the crew to taxi the aircraft without properly assessing the maneuverability of the aircraft at the parking bay; the non-availability of proper apron markings and Marshallers; the presence of cautionary cones at strategic areas where repair work on the apron was awaiting cure.
Like the NCAT aircraft crash, AIB suggested four safety recommendations to forestall future occurrence.
It recommended to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to engage more Marshallers, and ensure adequate training and retraining of such personnel, adding that the agency should also establish a quasi-apron control room at the domestic terminal.
“FAAN should provide all necessary personal protective equipment and spares for Marshallers and other relevant personnel. NCAA should also ensure that proper regulatory oversight is carried out on operators using the GAT (General Aviation Terminal).”
The commissioner reiterated the commitment of AIB management to release more reports before the year runs out adding that the current leadership in the Bureau is result oriented and will not be giving excuses.
He also told the journalists while responding to questions that the problem of funding in AIB would soon be a history as necessary steps were already being taken to sustainable statutory funding for the agency.
Olateru also explained that the Bureau was gaining more recognition in the continent and globally for its professionalism, which according to him informed the recent invitation by São Tomé to assist in investigating a crash in the country.
He sought the support of the media in the agency's quest to perform its core mandates.