Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, has said pilots of the crashed Sikorsky 76C ++ helicopter with marked 5N-BQJ shouted ‘May Day’ twice before abandoning ship over the Atlantic Ocean.
The bureau said the first cry of ‘May Day’ was declared at 78 nautical miles from Lagos by the crew, who complained of instrument problems.
Immediately after that call, the helicopter descended from 3,000 feet to 1,500 feet.
AIB Commissioner, Dr. Felix Abali, disclosed this to journalists yesterday at the bureau’s headquarters at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, while giving an update on the crash.
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Abali further said the captain declared the second ‘May Day’ to the radio operator at the offshore platform, which was relayed to Air Traffic Control, ATC, by two aircraft.
He explained that one of the aircraft was following the communication and relayed the ditching, which occurred at 10:20am at 29 nautical miles away from the platform.
Abali added that when the helicopter developed fault mid-air, the Flying Officer, FO, was the Pilot Flying, PF, adding that the captain took control of the chopper expecting to stabilise equipment, but failed.
He said, “The captain took over control expecting to stabilise the helicopter, but the aircraft was not responding to control inputs. She declared the 2nd May Day to the radio operator at the offshore platform, which was relayed to the ATC by two separate aircraft.
“The crew was met on arrival by AIB at the Eko Support Quay where they were transferred to Lagoon Hospital, Lagos Island.”
Abali said the investigators had administered toxicological tests on the crew, which proved negative of any substance abuse while one of the nine passengers onboard was equally interviewed.