The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released its preliminary report on the crash involving a helicopter operated by Quorum Aviation Limited.
The ill-fated helicopter had on August 28, 2020, crashed into a residential building at Opebi area, off Salvation Road, Lagos.
In its report released on Monday, the AIB revealed that the helicopter had no fuel in its tanks after the crash.
This is contrary to claims that followed the crash. There had been speculations that the pilot, Captain Chike Ernest, had dumped fuel to avoid explosion on impact.
Political activist, Omoyele Sowore, was among those who made the claim. “This Is Captain Chike Ernest, pilot of the helicopter that crashed into 2 homes in Lagos yesterday. He manoeuvred the ailing chopper to avoid maximum casualties on ground, he dumped fuel to avoid explosion on impact,” he had tweeted.
According to the AIB, although the chopper had a long-range extender fuel system, it did not have the capability to jettison/dump fuel.
It said the Bell 206B III helicopter was topped up with 247 litres of fuel to full tank capacity on ground on August 27, a day before the crash.
The bureau noted that after refuelling, 10 minutes of engine run and 20 minutes of test flight were carried out on the helicopter in Port Harcourt.
“The technical logbook entry revealed that there was an engine run for 10 minutes and a test flight of 20 minutes in preparation for a positioning flight the next day,” the report read.
“On 28th August 2020 at 09:15 h, 5N-BQW was started and at 09:20 h, the helicopter lifted off from DNPM as a ferry flight to EAN Aviation hangar, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos (DNMM).
“The flight was operated on a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight plan. According to the flight plan, on board were one pilot, an engineer and a fitter mechanic with fuel endurance of 3:15 h.”
The AIB also revealed that the pilot’s last medical examination was valid until August 6, 2020. It noted that it did not find evidence that an application for the exemption provided by the All Operators’ Letter (AOL) DG02020 had been submitted to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Also, the pilot’s last proficiency check was revealed to have been valid till August 24, 2020, and there was no evidence to show that an application for the exemption provided by the AIL DG018/ 20 had been submitted to the NCAA.
The bureau further noted that the helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or a cockpit voice recorder.
“Neither recorder was required by the relevant aviation regulations but was equipped with a Garmin GNC 420 Global Positioning System,” it said.
The AIB stated that the helicopter took off from Port Harcourt at 9:20am and was estimated to land in Lagos after two hours forty-five minutes, 12:05pm.
But it crashed into the residential building at 12:14pm. While the bureau did not state the reason for the crash, it said there was no fuel left in the fuel tanks after the crash, suggesting that the crash might have been as a result of lack of fuel.
The pilot and two other persons aboard the helicopter lost their lives to the crash.