By Louis Ibah
The Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Wednesday said the two police pilots that flew the Bell 427 helicopter with registration no 5N-POL that crashed at Kabong, Jos, Plateau State, on March 14, 2012, killing the then Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in-charge of Operations, Mr. John Haruna, and three others, were not fit and qualified to fly the aircraft on that day.
Commissioner/CEO for AIB, Mr. Akin Olateru, who disclosed this while releasing the report on the cause of the police helicopter crash in Jos and two other aircraft incidences faulted the competences of the two police pilots and the engineers that certified the helicopter as fit for operations. He also said the quality of fuel used by the aircraft had integrity issues that might have also resulted in the crash.
“Although the cause of the police helicopter accident cannot be conclusively decided, our investigations discovered series of discrepancies and non-compliance with civil aviation regulations,” said Olateru.
“For instance, the pilot-in-command medical certificate had expired as at the time of accident and his simulator recurrency (a mandatory six-month test certificate on that aircraft) had also expired as at the time of accident. In the same vein, the co-pilot was not type rated (professionally licenced) on the helicopter (Bell 427), just as the engineer that released the aircraft prior to the flight had no type training and type rating on the aircraft type. This means that the two pilots and engineers had no business doing what they did with the aircraft on that day,” Olateru said.
The AIB CEO said after the conclusion of the investigation, the agency made three safety recommendations to the police and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to forestall similar occurrences with police helicopters. The first recommendation was for the NPF Air-Wing to provide the proper funding, conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its pilots, technical/operational personnel, with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety.
The second was for the NCAA to ensure that the NPF Air-Wing complies with its aircraft approved maintenance requirements.
The third recommendation was for the NCAA and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to 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 and this should yield firmer regulatory oversight mechanism that ensures international quality of aviation fuels used in Nigeria,” the report added.