Faith Yahaya, Abuja and Kelvin Osa Okunbor, Lagos
ALMOST 17 months after a helicopter conveying Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to Kabba, Kogi State crashed, the Accident and Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Tuesday gave human error as the major cause of the accident.
The other reasons are loss of visual contact with the ground and external surroundings, inappropriate landing techniques and limited planning before the commencement of the flight by the crew.
Osinbajo was one of the 12 persons aboard the Caverton Helicopters Limited chopper marked 5N-CML when it crashed at the Kabba Stadium February 2 , 2019, almost aborting his Family Chats and Next Level engagements.
The chats and the Next Level were part of the electioneering strategies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for last year’s presidential poll.
The Accident and Investigation Bureau (AIB) released details of the crash alongside three others that happened in the country between 2014 and 2019 in Abuja yesterday.
AIB Commissioner Akin Olateru, who gave accounts of the Kabba helicopter, said the crew lost visual contact with the ground and external surroundings while trying to land at the stadium.
He also faulted the crew for not understanding appropriate landing techniques and not planning thoroughly before the commencement of the flight.
The commissioner said the AIB had recommended that the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) involved the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) Unit in the coordination and preparation of all “Executive VIP” flights.
Olateru said: “The flight crew stated that they sighted the intended landing area as a result of the cloud of residual dust generated by the downwash of a Police helicopter.
“After sighting the football field, the flight crew approached with the speed of 20feet to about a 100feet, and entered a hover to land.
At about 50feet above ground level, a brownout set in. The flight crew lost visual contact with the ground and external surroundings.
“The co-pilot began radio altitude callouts “35, 30, 25, 20 and 15”. At about 14:34h, the helicopter experienced a hard landing on the right main landing gear and rolled over onto its right side. All persons on board were evacuated uninjured.”
Other causal factors, according to the report, are: “Inappropriate landing technique used, non-adherence to company procedures for known or anticipated brownout condition during landing and lack of risk assessment, limited landing site preparation, and planning prior to commencement of the flight.”