• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Bristow suspends operations over crashed helicopter

Bristow helicopters
  • black boxes still missing, AIB to release preliminary report in 30 days

Bristow helicoptersTwo days after one of its helicopters crashed into the Lagos lagoon, killing six of the 12 on board, Bristow Helicopters, yesterday, suspended its operations.

This is just as the airline said the crashed helicopter was air worthy before the accident.

Duncan Moore, the company’ regional manager, West Africa, said it had also informed the next of kin of the affected families that lost their members in the crash.

The airline said its two pilots were among the dead recovered from the Lagoon by rescue agencies. The airline said six persons rescued from the lagoon were receiving treatment at the hospital.

The airline is yet to release the manifest of passengers that were on board the ill-fated helicopter.

“The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76C+, was returning from a drilling rig offshore. Preliminary information indicates that the aircraft carried 10 passengers and a crew of two. The company is in the process of collecting pertinent information and will release more details as soon as it is available.

“At this time, the full resources of Bristow Helicopter’s incident response team are being mobilised. Families are being contacted and Bristow is fully cooperating with authorities responding to the incident.”

Meanwhile, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) said on Thursday that the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder, known as Black boxes of the crashed helicopter were yet to be found after the wreckage of the chopper was recovered from the lagoon on Thursday.

The black boxes preserve the recent history of the sounds in the cockpit, including the conversation of the pilots. The two recorders give an accurate testimony, narrating the aircraft’s flight history, to assist in any later investigation.

Meanwhile, Binta Adamu Bello, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation, had assured the general public of speedy investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the crash.

Bello made this pledge while on a visit to the crash site on Thursday, saying government would do everything within its power to ensure enhanced air safety in the country.

Felix Abali, commissioner, AIB, said at a briefing that Julius Berger would help to recover the remaining the parts of the aircraft, including the black boxes today after it recovered two more bodies on Thursday.

He said the preliminary report of the accident would be made public in the next 30 days according to regulations, adding however that it could be ready before then if they conclude on time.

He also declined to release the manifest of the crash, saying they need to consult with the families of the victims before releasing the full manifest.
On speculations that the aircraft may have carried more passengers than the configured seats number, Abali said investigations were on into that, adding that they only know that there 12 people were on board.

“The main part of the aircraft has been recovered but without the black boxes. We are working hard to ensure that the preliminary report is ready before the 30 days but according to regulations,” he said.

The Sikorsky S-76C+ is an American medium-size commercial utility helicopter, manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. The S-76 features twin turboshaft engines, four-bladed main and tail rotors and retractable landing gear.

According to Wikipedia, Sikorsky Aircraft first flight was in March 13, 1977, while the status position says it is still in service and could carry up to 14 passengers conveniently.

Primary users are Bristow Helicopters Canadian Helicopter Company (CHC Helicopter), while the unit cost is $13 million as of 2014.

Meanwhile, Bristow confirmed that the flight crew was among the fatalities. They comprised of Captain Joseph Wyatt of Oklahoma, US, and First Officer Peter Bello of Nigeria.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this accident,” said Moore, saying further “we are committing our full resources to help. Our highest priority is to take care of our crew and clients and their family members and provide them with any assistance needed.” According to an official of the airline, there are no plans to phase out the chopper type that crashed.

“We are still flying the C+ as we don’t have reason at this point to suspend operations. It is a sound aircraft with a strong safety record. The chopper uses the engine type called Turbomeca Arriel .The C+ is flown in the Gulf of Mexico and Nigeria; 10 in the GOM, and four in Nigeria. “

The airline said it had reached understanding with the client that hired the chopper not to disclose its identify.

“We can’t disclose at this time, but we are working closely with the client and coordinating efforts. “

On the status of the aircraft the airline said: “It is not an old aircraft. Bristow is in full compliance with regulatory directives issued for our aircraft. Special maintenance and monitoring programs developed by the aircraft and engine manufacturers, the helicopter operators and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in recent years have ensured all our aircraft are maintained to optimum standards.”

“There were 12 on board, 10 passengers and two crew. The pilots were well qualified and experienced pilots. We have stood down operations at Bristow Helicopters Nigeria as of 8/13/15. Decisions will be made on a daily basis. It is much too early to talk about the cause of this incident. It will take weeks or months of investigation to determine why the incident happened.