The Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, has said that ‘pilot error’ led to the death of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, John Haruna, and three others in the 2012 helicopter crash in Kabong area of Jos, Plateau State.
The AIB released a report on Wednesday that indicated the medical certificate of the pilot of the Bell 427 Helicopter, with registration number 5NPAL, had expired as of the time of the accident, while the co-pilot was not ‘type-rated on the helicopter.’
The helicopter belonged to the Special Task Force, one of the teams in charge of security in Plateau State.
Akin Olateru, AIB commissioner, also said that the cause of the accident could not be decided due to the investigation that uncovered chains of differences and non-compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations.
“The simulator had expired as of the time of the accident and that the engineer who released the aircraft prior to the flight had no type training and rating on the aircraft model,” he said.
He added that the flight which originated from the Abuja airport to the Jos Prison Service football fields was conveying the DIG to Abuja.
Punch Newspaper reported that the AIB commissioner said that the pilot had initial contact with Jos Control Tower at about 1.50 p.m. the preceding day, adding that the following day on March 14 at about 9.30 a.m., a police fuel tanker that had arrived in Jos from Abuja the previous day, fuelled the aircraft, which had been parked overnight at the Jos Prison football field.
According to the AIB report, a two-way communication was established between the helicopter and air traffic controller at 9.58 a.m. and the pilot reported endurance of two hours, five persons on board, maintaining an altitude of 4000ft, and that it was a patrol flight around Jos city.
“The pilot also reported that he would be landing at the Police Headquarters, Jos and would call the control tower when rejoining for another patrol. The helicopter landed at the Nigerian Prisons Service football field, Jos, customarily used as a landing site for the Police Headquarters, Jos at 10. 58 am.
“At about 11.50 a.m., the helicopter lifted up with four persons on board including the DIG. The control tower was notified at about 11.55 a.m. of the helicopter’s crash at Landir village, Kabong area, near Jos metropolis, and that all four persons on board were fatally injured,” the report stated.
Mr. Olateru added that three safety recommendations were made, after investigations, to the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Petroleum Resources.
“NPF Air-Wing was advised to provide the proper funding, conducive working environment, develop and implement a robust training programme for its technical/operational personnel, with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety while the NCAA should ensure that the NPF Air-Wing complied with its approved maintenance organisation requirements.
“The DPR, on the other hand, was advised to launch an independent inquiry into the aviation fuel quality in the country and the resulting report should focus on the vulnerability and risk of each step in the distribution process.
“The NCAA has since recertified the NPF Air-Wing in accordance with the Part 6 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs) in 2014 as an approved maintenance organisation and its certificate was subsequently renewed in July 2016 and is presently valid up until May 26, 2018,” he said.