The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has given more details about the Bell Helicopter crash which occurred in Opebi area of Ikeja, Lagos on Friday, 28 August, 2020, saying that it lost contact with Air Traffic Control about three hours after takeoff from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
During a press conference on Tuesday, September 1, the AIB commissioner, Akin Olateru, debunked speculations that the aircraft with registration marks 5N-BQW operated by Quorum Aviation limited, was dumping fuel before the crash, calling on patience from the public to avoid insinuations as the preliminary report will be out in a couple of weeks.
The AIB Commissioner also said the light aircraft does not have a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) or Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) as it is a 5-seater and not certified for a ‘Blackbox.’ He said that the FDR would have made it easier to conduct the investigation but that the Bureau has all it needs in terms of evidence and manpower to carry out a thorough probe into the crash.
“On 28th August 2020, a Bell 206 B III helicopter with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQW, operated by Quorum Aviation Limited, started its engine at 09:15 h. At 09.20 hours, the helicopter lifted off from Port Harcourt Military Airport (DNPM) for EAN Hanger, Lagos Airport.
“At 11:45 hours, the aircraft established contact with Lagos tower, reporting maintaining 1000 ft and estimating the station at 12:18 h. In the ensuing communication, the pilot was advised of station weather.
At 12:10hours, the pilot reported sighting the airfield and was instructed by the Air Traffic Control(ATC), to report downwind for runway 18L. At 12:16h, the ATC tried unsuccessfully to establish contact with the aircraft. At 12:36h, ATC was informed of the crash of the helicopter by MMF02, a MMIA fire station.
At the crash site, two bodies were recovered. A third occupant was evacuated but died later in the hospital. The aircraft wreckage was also recovered and now in the custody of the Bureau. We have been receiving cooperation from Quorum Aviation Ltd, the owners and operator of the ill-fated aircraft,” he said.
Speaking on the FDR and speculations that the aircraft jettisoned fuel midair, he said: “We are aware of the speculations circulating on social media and other public fora with regards to the probable cause of the crash and AIB’s retrieval of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), popularly known as the Black Box.
“We would like to clarify that AIB did not retrieve an FDR from the aircraft as the Bell 206 is certified at approximately 1,519kg (3,350lbs) and featured five seats. It does not meet the necessary criteria for an FDR and was not featured with one. The standard requirement for an FDR in any aircraft is ten seats. Also,the aircraft is not designed to jettison fuel.”
The investigative body appealed for patience, saying that it would complete the ongoing investigation and make the necessary safety recommendations that will help to prevent the future recurrence of a similar accident and that findings will be made public in due course.