How Police Helicopter Crashed In Bauchi, AIB-N Reveals
Exactly three months after the police helicopter Bell 429 with the registration number: 5N-MDA of the Nigeria Police crashed in Bauchi State, Accident Investigation Bureau – Nigeria (AIB-N) has released its preliminary report on the cause of the accident.
Apart from this, AIB-N also released preliminary reports on three other serious incidents involving United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), Max Air and Air Peace aircraft.
AIB-N in a report released in Abuja on Tuesday said that the police’s helicopter, which departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, (NAIA), Abuja to Maiduguri on a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight plan with a planned technical stop at Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Airport, Bauchi crashed at 19:47hrs in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).
A Series of reasons were adduced for the accident of the helicopter, including a breakdown of onboard equipment and communication gaps between the crew and control towers.
The report said that before the accident, the aircraft with six souls on board; three crew members and three passengers, contacted the Abuja tower at 17:45hrs, requested for engine start to Bauchi and confirmed the flight plan for the journey.
AIB-N in its preliminary report said that at 17:50hrs, the tower cleared the aircraft to Abuja control zone boundary en route to Bauchi, not above 5,500ft and to standby lift.
It said the tower then passed prevailing wind as 110/04kts and further cleared the helicopter to lift, left turn out after lift in which the pilot responded in affirmative.
The report stated that the crew further stated that at 18:40hrs when they were abeam Jos Airport, they made attempt again to establish two-way communication with Jos tower, but proved abortive.
However, despite this, the flight still continued as filed, but at 18:46hrs, the helicopter tried to establish initial contact with Bauchi tower on 124.5 MHz without response.
This, the report said the crew continued its failed attempt to establish two-way communication with the Jos tower every five-minute intervals until they got to the Bauchi control zone boundary, yet, continued with preparations for landing with the belief that even if the tower was closed, provided the airport was illuminated, they could land.
Unfortunately, at 5 NM to Bauchi, there was no sign of any lighting at the airport as the entire airport was in complete darkness.
The helicopter descended to 3,000ft and positioned for the runway centerline using Global Positioning System (GPS), but the pilot was able to have visual contact with the runway centerline, which he later lost due to darkness and later initiated a ‘go around.’