Crashed Police Bell 429 helicopter had unserviceable flying equipment – AIB
The Accident Investigation Bureau – Nigeria (AIB-N) has disclosed in its preliminary reports released on Tuesday that the crashed Bell 429 helicopter owned and operated by Nigeria Police Air Wing which occurred at Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Airport, Bauchi, January 26, 2022 did not have a serviceable radio beacon.
According to the report, the BCH’ VOR/DME BCEP 115.6 MHZ was unserviceable on the day of the occurrence.
A VOR/DME is a radio beacon that combines a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) with distance-measuring equipment (DME). The VOR allows the receiver to measure its bearing to or from the beacon, while the DME provides the slant distance between the receiver and the station.
The findings also show that Nigeria Police Air Wing (NPAW) does not have approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The aircraft with Nationality and Registration marks 5N-MDA had on-board six persons inclusive of three crew members (Pilot, Co-pilot and Engineer), and three passengers with fuel endurance of three hours.
During approach, the helicopter Main Rotor hit the top branches of the tree, while the Tail Rotor impacted a tree of about 5m high and crash landed on heading 359°. The helicopter came to a stop at a distance of 20.60 m from the tree, the report shows.
The crew and passengers disembarked the helicopter without injury.
More findings listed by AIB-N reveal that Bell 429 was not included in NPAW AMO operations specifications (OPSPECS), the crew could not establish contact with Jos Tower and the flight continued as filed, and the crew could not establish two-way radio communication with DNBC until after the crash.
Other findings show that the airport DNBC was in darkness at the time of arrival of 5N-MDA, the crew had a visual contact with the runway centreline but soon lost visual contact with the runway centreline due to darkness, the crew executed two Go-Around and 5N-MDA crashed on the third landing attempt, and neither the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) nor the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) detected the tree.
The AIB-N recommended that as a non-commercial corporate aviation service operator, NPAW must adhere to the applicable provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs 2015) sub part 8.6 on Flight Planning and Supervision and ensure that its flight crew take cognisance and adhere strictly to the operating hours of destination and alternate airfields before the commencement of flights.
It also stated that NPAW should ensure that its crew adhere strictly to the relevant provisions of Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs 2015) in their operations, develop operations manual and SOPs as required by Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs 2015), sub part 8.14 for a Corporate Aviation Services Operator and submit to NCAA for approval.