- Airline engineers inexperienced, Police pilots unlicensed, violated regulations
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released three accident reports involving Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Bell 427 helicopter with registration 5N-POL at Kabong, Jos South LGA, Plateau State, Nigeria on March 14, 2012.
Others are serious incident to Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Tampico TB9 aircraft with registration 5N-CBC which occurred at Zaria Aerodrome, Kaduna, Nigeria on October 6, 2008; and ground Collision incident involving two aircraft belonging to Air Peace Airlines Limited: Boeing 737-500 with registration 5N-BQR and Boeing 737-300 with registration 5N-BQP, which occurred close to Bay 4 of the Domestic Terminal 1 of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria on the April 20, 2017.
This is coming barely six months after the AIB released four accident reports including the one involving Dana Air which claimed over 153 lives on June 3, 2012 in Lagos.
The latest report indicted crew of the ill-fated helicopter conveying the late Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr, John Haruna and three others which occurred in Plateau State.
The findings indicated that the pilot’s medical had expired as at the time of accident, just as the pilot’s simulator re-currency had expired as at the time of accident.
The co-pilot of the Police helicopter was not type rated on the Bell 427 helicopter with the engineer that released the airplane prior to the flight had no type training and type rating on the aircraft type.
As part of three safety recommendations, AIB recommended that the NPF Air-Wing should provide the proper funding, conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its technical/operational personnel, with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety.
Apart from this, the accident investigation agency also released to the public serious incident involving a Tampico TB 9 aircraft belonging to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and the ground collision incident involving Air Peace Airlines at the apron of the General Aviation Terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos on 20th April, 2017.
Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru attributed the cause of the police helicopter crash to unlicensed pilots and an engineer.
According to AIB, the pilot’s medical had expired as at the time of the accident, adding that his simulator re-currency had also expired as at the time the helicopter crashed in the state.
The helicopter was operated by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and was registered under the private category with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Olateru explained that the crashed helicopter was manufactured in 2012 while it crashed in 2014.
He disclosed that the unlicensed pilots and engineers were technically not qualified to pilot and released the aircraft for flight operations respectively; stressing that it was a serious violation in the civil aviation industry.
He explained that before the agency released the report to the public, it had already been circulated to stakeholders in the sector while the Nigerian police too had accepted the outcome of its investigation.
He stressed that this was the standard in the global aviation industry and noted that all its safety recommendations had been accepted by the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He said: “Technically, the pilot didn’t have the license to fly as at the time the helicopter crashed in Plateau. Also, the co-pilot too had no business being in the cabin. Besides, the engineer was not authorised to release the aircraft for any flight operations as he was not type-rated on it. This report went out for the mandated 60 days review with stakeholders and the Nigerian Police. The police authorities accepted its responsibilities while their pilots have all been trained according to international standards.”
“Also, NCAA accepted the safety recommendations of AIB while the regulatory authority has also recertified the Nigerian Air wing as required and has issued a certificate to that effect. The renewed certificate is valid till May 26, 2018.”
It would be recalled that Haruna and three others were killed when a police helicopter, which was delivered in December 2013 crashed into buildings in Kabong area of Jos, the state capital, minutes after take-off.
The police had given the name of the pilot as Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Garba Yelwa, the co-pilot was CSP Alexander Pwol-ja and Sergeant Sonatian Shirunam who was the orderly of Haruna.
Olateru, however, said that the cause of the accident could not be conclusively decided on the violations of safety rules alone by those mentioned above.
He further stated that investigation discovered series of discrepancies and non-compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) by the operator of the helicopter, the Nigerian Police.
AIB in the safety recommendations, therefore called on the Nigeria Police to provide the proper funding, conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its technical or operational personnel, with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety.
Olateru also told journalists the serious incident involving a Tampico TB 9 aircraft belonging to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria NCAT in 2008 and the ground collision incident involving Air Peace Airlines at the apron of the General Aviation Terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos on April 20th, 2017.
He said that the crash of the Tampico TB 9 aircraft, operated by NCAT with registration 5N-CBC occurred at Zaria aerodrome, Kaduna State on October 6, 2008.
He added: “On final approach, he had good attitude and airspeed control. The aircraft touched down around the first intersection about 600m from the runway 24 threshold, skidded, and veered off the centre line of the runway to the right.
AIB also made four safety recommendations on the ground collision incident involving two Air Peace aircraft at the apron wing of the Lagos Airport.
The two aircraft were Boeing 737-500 with the registration numbers 5N-BQR and Boeing 737-300 with registration number 5N-BQP, which occurred on April 20, 2017 at the airport.
The report said that the decision of the Captain to reposition the aircraft without requesting for a push-back, maneuvering the aircraft without the aid of Marshallers by relying on the company’s engineers who are inexperienced wing walkers were some of the factors responsible for the crash.
Other factors according to AIB are the decision of the crew to taxi the aircraft without properly assessing the maneuverability of the aircraft at the parking bay; the non-availability of proper apron markings and Marshallers; the presence of cautionary cones at strategic areas where repair work on the apron was awaiting cure.
It recommended to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to engage more Marshallers, and ensure adequate training and retraining of such personnel, adding that the agency should also establish a quasi-apron control room at the domestic terminal.