On the 3rd of February, 2016, barely two days ago, a Bristow helicopter bound for Lagos from Port-Harcourt, Nigeria crashed. The self-same helicopter company also had a similar incident when it had crashed in 2015 into the Lagos Lagoon which resulted in the death of six people, including the pilot and the co-pilot. The company released a statement confirming the crash and the survival of everyone on board in what had been a controlled ditching, none of the 11 passengers on board lost their lives.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has however announced its suspension of the operational license of Bristow Helicopters Limited’s Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter series until further notice. Previous accidents of the helicopter company have included one in August 2007, another in November 2009, a collision in December 2009, another accident in April 2010, one in July 2011, another in February 2013, the terrible accident last year and this most recent mishap. Sikorsky S- 76 aircraft is an American medium – size commercial utility Helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. It features twin turbo shaft engines; four- blades, main and tail rotors with a retractable landing gear.
The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Mukhtar Usman in a brief to newsmen at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport’s NCAA Annex has said that the authority looked at “with utmost seriousness the successive mishaps of Bristow Helicopters’ operating aircraft Sikorsky S- 76C++ on the coastal waters of Lagos”.
This is not new in the industry, it is one of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) all over the world” Capt. Mukhtar Usman said, elaborating further that the current suspension was not in any way a negative vote of confidence on the company and its operations but simply a needed move to ascertain the adequacy and propriety of the continued operation of that helicopter series. ”
He also made reference to the ongoing investigation by Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), which he said would receive the full support of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The truth of the matter remains that Nigeria is still one of the many African countries that is slowly overcoming an airline or aviation phobia and we hope that these events won’t set us back many years. We will await the determinations of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) as we honestly wish the company the very best of luck.