The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released investigation report on the Nigeria Police Bell 427 helicopter marked 5N-Pol which crashed in Landir village, Kabong area near Jos metropolis on March 14, 2012 saying the cause of the accident could not be conclusively decided.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, the commissioner of AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, however said investigation discovered series of discrepancies and non-compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs).
He said the pilot’s medical as well as simulator recurrency had expired as at the time of accident.
He also said the co-pilot of the ill-fated aircraft which killed all four passengers including a deputy inspector general of police was not type rated on Bell 427 helicopter while the engineer who released the aircraft prior to the flight had no type training and type rating on the aircraft type.
Olateru said the Bureau recommended that the NPF Air Wing should provide the proper funding, a conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its technical/operational personnel with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety.
In addition, it recommended that NCAA should ensure NPF Air Wing complied with its approved maintenance organization requirements; that NCAA and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) should launch an independent inquiry into aviation fuel quality in Nigeria. “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,” he said.
Olateru also disclosed that the Police Air Wing and NCAA had accepted and enacted the safety recommendations to forestall any recurrence.
“The police pilots and engineers have been type-rated on the police fleet despite the inadequate funding from the government appropriation while many are still on the waiting list to be type-rated. The Police Air Wing had been able to obtain from the NCAA a valid AMO in compliance with the regulation.”
“The NCAA recertified the Nigeria Police Air-Wing in accordance with Part 6 of the Nig. CARs in 2014 as an AMO certificate number AMO/5N/NPF. This certificate was subsequently renewed in July, 2016 and is currently valid till May 26, 2018.
“The NCAA also accomplishes its surveillance on the certified entity to ensure their continuous compliance with the regulatory requirements,” said Olateru.
He also released the report of serious incident involving the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Tampico TB9 aircraft with registration 5N-CBC which occurred at the Zaria Aerodrome, Kaduna on October 6, 2008 as well as ground collision incidents involving two aircraft belonging to Air Peace: Boeing 737-500 with registration 5N-BQR and Boeing 737-300 with registration 5N-BQP, which occurred close to Bay 4 of the Domestic Terminal 1 of the Murtala Muhammed Airport on April 20, 2017.
Olateru said the causal factor of the Tampico TB9 incident was the inability of the student pilot to maintain directional control of the aircraft after touchdown.
He also said the student pilot lost concentration while retracting the flap and trimming the aircraft during the landing roll preparatory to the next take-off.
Besides, he said student was fatigued as he had done six landings with the instructor and four solo landings.
“The increased workload due to the “un-gated” flap control knob assembly,” he added.
The AIB also made three safety recommendations including the need for the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) to propose to the aircraft manufacturer – SOCATA of France to incorporate a “gate detent” position in the flap control knob assembly to make proper flap selections easier during aircraft operations.
The agency also recommended for NCAT to 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 and that NCAT should procure equipment and train relevant personnel to conduct toxicological examination in its aero medical facility”
He also said AIB was releasing for the first time what he called AIB Bulletin on the ground collision incident involving two aircraft belonging to Air Peace.
The commissioner explained that such reports which are neither accidents nor serious incidents were released in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2016 of the Bureau.
Being a safety agency, he said AIB decided to investigate the incidents because of the safety lessons to be learnt.
“As a way of moving forward on this initiative, we plan on increasing our safety awareness through stakeholders’ interactive sessions and the media houses,” he said.
Olateru said various factors contributed to the incident including the captain’s decision to reposition the aircraft without requesting for a push-back; maneuvering the aircraft without the aid of marshallers and instead relying on the company’s engineers who are inexperienced wing walkers; the crew’s decision 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 as well as the limited maneuvering space between 5N-BQP and 5N-MJJ.
He said the agency made four safety recommendations were made including the need for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to engage more marshallers and ensure adequate training and retraining, establish a quasi apron control room at the domestic terminal, and provide all necessary personal protective equipment and spares for marshallers and other relevant personnel.
It also called on NCAA to ensure that proper regulatory oversight is carried out on operators using the general; aviation terminal.