Fuel shortage, crew error, others caused Quorum helicopter crash as AIB releases more reports

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Thursday released four final accident and serious incident reports and one safety bulletin to the public.

The reports are those involving Quorum Aviation Limited’s Bell 206B3 Helicopter with registration 5N-BQW which occurred at Opebi, Lagos State on 28th August 2020, the accident involving Skypower Express Airways Nigeria Limited Air Tractor AT-401B Aircraft with registration 5N-BTV which occurred at Rukubi Village 90 NM South-East of Abuja on the 4th October 2018 and the serious incident involving Nigeria Police Airwing Bell 429 Helicopter with registration 5N-MDA which occurred at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on  August 3rd, 2019.

 

Crash site of Quorum Aviation Limited in Opebi, Ikeja

Others were serious incidents involving Skypower Express Airways Nigeria Limited Cessna 172 Aircraft with registration 5N-APE at Bini Village, Niger State on November 19th,,2019 and bulletin report on the ground collision involving a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Truck with registration AKD765FK and Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Bell 412 Helicopter with registration NAF 600 which occurred at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on 15th June 2020.

Of all the reports, the Quorum Helicopter that crashed into two buildings in the highbrow Opebi area of Lagos caught the attention of many out of the five reports because of the way the accident occurred just less than three minutes to landing at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, an aircraft engineer, who read out the reports in Abuja, attributed the cause of the accident which all three crew members onboard to fuel exhaustion at low altitude and low speed leading to loss of control in flight.

He equally listed the cause of the helicopter crash to, “The decision to continue the flight towards the intended destination with insufficient fuel instead of landing as soon as practicable in line with section 12.12 of Quorum Aviation Limited Operations Manual Part A”.

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“There was lack of effective management supervision of the airline’s flight operations and inadequate safety oversight of Quorum Aviation Limited”.

As part of AIB’s safety recommendation, the report charged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who wish to combine flight duties with multiple post holder positions provide NCAA with comprehensive safety risk mitigation measures to ensure that safe operation can be achieved.

It equally recommended that the NCAA should focus its safety oversight to ensure that the Quorum Aviation Limited takes steps to prevent further violation of its approved operating procedures and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations.

Also included in the safety recommendation is that Quorum Aviation Limited should ensure that all its personnel is well acquainted with their respective schedules of responsibilities and capable of discharging their duties effectively in accordance with the company’s Approved Standard Operating Procedures.

Detailing how the helicopter crashed, Olateru disclosed that his agency was notified of the accident by an eyewitness on August 28th, 2020, adding that investigators were dispatched to the accident site and commenced post occurrence assessment.

According to him, “At 11:45:34 h, a Bell 206B3 helicopter 5N-BQW operated by Quorum Aviation Limited established initial contact with Lagos Tower and passed its traffic information: inbound from Port Harcourt, maintaining 1000 feet, 20 miles to the field estimating Lagos at 12:17 h, with three persons on board and one-hour endurance. Lagos Tower acknowledged the call.

At 11:47:08 h, Tower issued an inbound clearance to 5N-BQW and requested 5N-BQW to report an estimate for the control zone boundary. 5N-BQW replied estimate to the control zone boundary10 minutes and Tower acknowledged and confirmed the estimate for 11:57 h. At 11:54:34 h, 5N-BQW reported five minutes to the field and informed Tower of intent to land at EAN (Evergreen Apple Nigeria) hangar.”

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“At 12:10:59 h, 5N-BQW reported field in sight and was instructed by Tower to report left downwind runway 18 left (18L). At 12:16:49 h, Tower tried to raise 5N-BQW on radio as it was not sighted on the left downwind position of the landing circuit as expected. Tower continued calling 5N-BQW but there was no response. At 12:36 h, Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) notified Tower of a reported helicopter crash in a residential area at Opebi”.

The accident, he said occurred at 12:14 h with all the three occupants of the helicopter were “fatally injured”.

For the accident involving Skypower Express Airways Nigeria Limited Air Tractor AT-401B Aircraft with registration 5N-BTV, the AIB attributed the cause to an undetermined engine failure at a low altitude that necessitated the execution of emergency forced-landing on farmland.

Wreckage of Bell 206 helicopter belonging to Quorum Aviation that crashed in between two buildings in Ikeja 

The serious incident involving Nigeria Police Airwing Bell 429 Helicopter with registration 5N-MDA which occurred on August 3, 2019, at Iyamho in Edo state was attributed to the lack of communication to update the crew on the current serviceability status of the ground handling wheel prior to arrival at DNAA.

As part of AIB’s safety recommendations, the Nigeria Police Airwing is tasked to develop a proper communication procedure for departing and arriving aircraft for information dissemination where necessary.

Others are the serious incident involving Skypower Express Airways Nigeria Limited Cessna 172 Aircraft with registration 5N-APE which occurred on November 19th, 2019, at about 08:45 h.

The aircraft hit a tree stump before it impacted the ground on its wheels which is about is 3 nm from where the pilot shut down the engine. The tail section of the aircraft was substantially damaged. The two occupants exited the aircraft uninjured.

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the accident happened when the engine oil seal at the top of the pushrod shifted, creating a clearance through which the oil escaped from the engine.

This, according to AIB resulted in low oil quantity and high oil temperature indications and subsequently a drop in engine rpm.

The last was Bulletin-Report on a ground collision involving a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Truck with registration AKD765FK and Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Bell 412 Helicopter with registration NAF 600.

The collision occurred between a moving Central Bank of Nigeria truck with registration AKD 765 FK and a parked Nigeria Air Force Bell 412 helicopter with registration NAF 600 on June 15th, 2020.

The CBN truck was conveying cargo to a CBN chattered Boeing 737-400 with nationality and registration marks 5N-RKT.

The driver’s misjudgment of the clearance between the truck and the helicopter main rotor blades caused the accident.

Olateru, in his remark, said the newly released reports make a total of 72 accident reports released by the Bureau since its establishment in 2007 and a total of 53 reports released since the inception of this administration.

“The five reports of today contain a total of twelve safety recommendations, which are addressed to the regulatory body, the affected airlines, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) among others. The Bureau has now released232 Safety Recommendations since inception with 151 of the recommendations released by this administration”.

Wole Shadare