The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, yesterday suspended Bristow Helicopter’s aircraft type SikorskyS-76C++ from further operations in Nigeria due to the successive mishaps of the said aircraft type on the coastal waters of Lagos. Disclosing this development to aviation reporters at the NCAA Annex, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman affirmed that the aircraft type had been suspended till further notice pending when the authority will carry out a full audit on it.
It will be recalled that Bristow Helicopters have had successive air mishaps on the Lagos coaster waters with its SikorskyS-76C++ aircraft type within the last six months. Captain Usman said “On the heels of the Bristow Helicopter’s controlled ditching yesterday, 3rd February 2016, I consider it expedient to communicate to you certain decisions that the Authority has taken concerning the incident”
“These decisions are without prejudice to the investigations being conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). As a matter of fact, it will serve to assist the entire process. The Authority will fully support AIB in the investigation” “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has therefore decided to suspend the operation of the Bristow Helicopters SikorskyS-76C++ type till further notice” Usman stressed.
The NCAA boss pointed out that the suspension was necessary because of previous crashes of the airline involving it’s aircraft type adding that it was only responsible for the Regulatory Authority to stem the rapidity of the occurrences and ensure that the airline carry out safe flight operations henceforth.
It will be recalled that on Wednesday, a Bristow helicopter with 11 passengers returning from an oil rig in the Niger Delta developed technical fault and the pilot “ditched”, that is, made an emergency landing on the Atlantic ocean. The eleven passengers and two crew members were rescued by National Emergency Management Authority, NEMA, officials who were already alerted by the pilot of the chopper and were on standby.
The crash occurred around Delta area, 95 nautical miles into Lagos at about 10:20am local time. This crash is happening Six months after a similar helicopter belonging to the same Bristow crashed into the Lagoon in Oworoshoki area of Lagos killing six passengers including the two crew members.
An official statement by Bristow Helicopter on the Wednesday crash said “Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Limited, confirmed today ( yesterday) that one of its helicopters, was involved in a water landing near Lagos at about 10.25 a.m. local time on return from an offshore platform. The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76C++, had departed on a routine crew transfer flight offshore with nine passengers and a crew of two.”
“All persons onboard are accounted for and in the process of being transferred to a nearby installation. The company is in the process of collecting pertinent information and will release more details as soon as it is available.”
Confirming the crash on Wednesday, the Head, Public Affairs, Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, said “ A S76 C++ helicopter marked 5N-BQJ belonging to Bristow Helicopters, which departed ERHA Platform enroute Lagos was ditched into the Atlantic Ocean 95 nautical miles into destination at about 10:20am local time.”
“All the eleven souls on board including two crew members were rescued alive. Accident Investigation Bureau AIB has commenced investigation into the occurrence. Details will be communicated to you later”. Also speaking on the crash, the General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said “ the accident happened 70 NM of Lagos. They are returning from their offshore location called ERA-Lagos. 9 passengers and 2 crew on board were all rescued alive.”
It will be recalled that in August, last year a helicopter belonging to Bristow Helicopters with 12 people on board, crashed into the Lagoon near the Oworonsoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.