By Lawani Mikairu
The Bell 206 Helicopter operated by Quorum Aviation limited that crashed on Friday in Opebi area of Ikeja, Lagos State was not fitted with Black Box or Flight Data Recorder, FDR. It is rated for one pilot.
This is just as the three souls aboard the helicopter have been identified to be the crew members. The pilots and engineers. They are Captain Chika Prudence Ernest and Engineer onboard, Clement Ndiok and ” a fitter whose name is yet to be disclosed.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, Spokesman, Mr Tunji Oketunbi yesterday said the crashed Bell helicopter was ” not fitted with Black Box”.
However, experts have said not all aircraft are fitted with Black Box. A senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, Cranbrook, British Columbia, Mr Damien Lawson two years ago said that if an aircraft or an helicopter was not carrying a black box or flight data recorder that could have contained a message or other data from any ” doomed flight’s final moments, eyewitness reports may be one of the ways to determine the events that led to the fatal crash”.
” A relatively credible witnesses who saw the aircraft in distress just before it crashed could lead us to a good flight profile of the aircraft”, Lawson said.
Speaking about Friday crash, Engineer Akin Olateru, Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, Commissioner said fitting of Black Box on an aircraft depends on weight classification.
According to Obateru, ” The classification is about weight of the aircraft and the number of seats. In this case, the Bell 206 doesn’t have have any fitted”.
The AIB Commissioner’s position is supported by International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, Annexes.
” ICAO Annex 6, Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 applies to commercial aircraft; Part 2 is for non-commercial operations. The basic standards for both Parts are essentially similar, calling for:
” Type I flight data recorders to be installed in all aircraft first issued individual certificates of airworthiness on or after January 1, 1989, with maximum certificated takeoff weights (MCTW) of over 27,000 kg (59,525 lbs)”
” Type IA FDRs be installed in all aircraft issued certificates of airworthiness after January 1, 2005, with maximum certificated takeoff weights exceeding 5,700 kg (12,566 lbs)”.
” We generally adopt ICAO standard. The bell 206 is certified at approximately 3,350lbs which is 1519kg and therefore does not require an FDR ( Black Box),” Mr Alex, an aviation expert pointed out yesterday.
“But this is a commercial aircraft operated by two pilots with more than six seats so there must be a Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVR.”
“But for flight data recorder which records parameters of flight… the requirement is usually ten seats…,” he added.
The general view expressed by experts Sunday Vanguard spoke to is that the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, will have to rely on the helicopter Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVR, and eyewitnesses account to unravel the cause of Friday’s Quorum Aviation helicopter crash.
Like the AIB boss said, the general public has to wait until the initial report is released by the bureau.
Vanguard News Nigeria