Osinbajo helicopter crash: AIB releases report


…lack of risk assessment, non-adherence, others responsible


The Accident Investigation Bureau AIB says crash of the Augusta helicopter carrying Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo to Kogi state was caused by certain factors.

The AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter incident was operated by Caverton Helicopters Limited with registration marks 5N-CML, occurred at Kabba, Kogi State on 2nd February, 2019.

These factors which  includes both casual and contributory are a brownout, Inappropriate landing technique used, non-adherence to company procedures for known or anticipated brownout condition during landing.

Others are  lack of risk assessment, limited landing site preparation and planning prior to commencement of the flight.

“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 misjudgement of distance and ground clearance, as the flight crew tried to control the helicopter’s movements for landing. The helicopter landed hard and rolled over on its right side.”   

AIB Commissioner, Engr. Akin Olateru at a virtaul news conference on the final accident report said, two safety recommendations had been issued to avoid a recurrence.

In it’s safety recommendations to parties concerned, the NCAA, Bristow and the National security adviser, the AIB Commissioner saysNCAA should Conduct a Safety Management System (SMS) audit of Caverton Helicopters. 

“The SMS audit by the NCAA should ensure that Caverton Helicopters has implemented the Immediate Safety Recommendation 2019-003, the NCAA All Operators Letter (FSG 002), and the recommendations documented in the Caverton Helicopters internal SMS investigation of this accident.”

He stated that the NCAA audit should also ascertain that the Caverton Helicopters internal SMS processes in the maintenance activities require the establishment of the reasons/causes of equipment failure/malfunction (reference is made to the failures of the Multi-Purpose Flight Recorder (MPFR) and the unavailability of the reasons of the failures). 

The AIB helsman stated that, the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) should Consider whether the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) Unit should be involved in the coordination and preparation of all high profile Executive VIP mission (flights) in order to ensure that all Executive VIP flights are conducted in accordance with the PAF Unit’s Standards and in line with its approved operating procedures.

It would be recalled that eleven days after the accident, the AIB issued two Interim Safety Recommendations, one to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and one to Caverton Helicopters. The required safety actions were initiated and implemented promptly. 


 On 2nd February, 2019 at about 07:26 h, an Agusta Westland (AW139) helicopter with nationality and registration marks 5N-CML operated by Caverton Helicopters Limited departed Lagos for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, to conduct a VIP charter flight from Abuja to Okene via Kabba and return to Abuja. The positioning flight to Abuja was normal. The helicopter was refuelled and the flight crew prepared for the VIP charter flight to Kabba.

At about 13:46 h, the helicopter departed Abuja runway 22 for Kabba. On board 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). 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.  

After sighting the football field, the flight crew approached with the speed of 20 kt to about a 100 ft, and entered a hover to land. At about 50 ft 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 14:34 h, 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. 


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