By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Accident and Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Tuesday explained in details what led to the crash of the helicopter conveying Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to a political campaign in Kabba, Kogi State last year.
On February 2, 2019, a chartered helicopter belonging to Caverton Helicopters conveying Osinbajo and his team for a campaign in Kogi State suddenly crashed in Kabba, but all 12 people onboard escaped unhurt.
After over one year of investigation, the AIB came up with its findings, saying that the flight crew lost visual contact with the ground and external surroundings, which led to the crash.
According to the Commissioner of AIB, Akin Olateru, Onboard were 12 persons, including the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his entourage, and three crew members (Pilot, Co-pilot, and an Engineer).
He 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, saying that after sighting the football field, the flight crew approached with the speed of 20ft to about a 100ft, and entered a hover to land.
“At about 50ft 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,” he stated.
Olateru added that the flight crew encountered a brownout condition during the hover to land, which led to the loss of external visual references, spatial disorientation, and loss of situational awareness, resulting in a misjudgment of distance and ground clearance, as the flight, the crew tried to control the helicopter’s movements for landing.
He said the helicopter landed hard and rolled over on its right side, stressing that 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.