Bristow helicopter: Black box recovered

helicopter-plunged-702x336The Accident Inves­tigation Bureau (AIB) yesterday announced that the flight recorders, popularly known as black boxes, to the Sikosky 76 helicopter belonging to Bristow He­licopters that crashed into the lagoon in Oworonshoki area of Lagos on Wednes­day August 12, 2015 have been recovered.

The Sikosky 76 helicopter marked 5N-BGD and oper­ated by Bristow Helicopters was believed to have de­parted SEDCO oil platform offshore and crashed shortly before landing at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

Commissioner/CEO of the AIB, Dr. Felix Abali told journalists that the Search party led by Julius Berger with the assistance of a hired diver located the recorders, which are expected to assist the investigators in unravel­ing the cause of the accident in which four passengers and two crew members died. Six other passengers are receiving treatment at a private hospital.

The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) contains data generat­ed from different parts of the aircraft including the engines and the avionics while the Cockpit Voice Recorder will unveil conversations within the cockpit and between the pilots and the Control Tower.

The biggest part of the wreckage of the ill fated aircraft was recovered on Thursday but without the black boxes. The search had resumed yesterday .

According to AIB ,inves­tigation has extended to re­trieving documents and other materials from Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Nigerian Airspace Manage­ment Agency (NAMA) and the airline operator. The AIB said other information will be released to the public as they unfold and according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annexe 13.

However controversy con­tinues to trail the actual cause of the crash as there have been wide spread allegations with­in the aviation industry that the Sikosky 76 Helicopter which crashed into the lagoon killing six of its 12 passengers including two crew members had actually been built with a configuration to carry eight and not up to 12 passengers, a development many feared could have contributed to the crash.

One industry source how­ever refuted the allegations saying the aircraft was built with a capacity to carry 14 person and that 12 passengers were still below the actual capacity of the helicopter. In recent years, the safety pro­cesses deployed by the man­agement of Bristow Helicop­ters, a US based firm which carries out chartered flight op­erations for oil and gas firms in Nigeria have been a subject of concern to many. Prior to Wednesday crash, Bristow Helicopters had recorded two other crashes in Eket and Port Harcourt which claimed the lives of passengers on board.

Murktar Usman, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has also ordered a full scale investigation into the crash which will not only ascertain the airworthiness status of the aircraft and the crew, but also the number of passengers the helicopter was supposed to carry.

It will also be the first time in Nigeria that air accident investigations would be ex­tended to include questioning the persons on board as at the time of the accident. -The Sun

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