By Lawani Mikairu
Following the release of preliminary report by Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, on the cause of the Caverton helicopter crash involving the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at Kabba , Kogi State two weeks ago ,aviation experts have commended the pilot in command of the chopper.
According to them, the calmness with which the pilot handled the lack of visibility at the landing point saved what would have been a national disaster.
A pilot with default Nigeria Airways , who preferred not to be named, said some inexperienced pilots would have panicked because of the calibre of passengers aboard and would not have been ” able to follow the necessary emergency procedures. This requires cool headedness and calmness to declare “May Day” . A back up Police helicopter immediately followed the caverton helicopter following the pilots May Day call.
An aeronautical engineer, Lanre John while reacting to the incident said helicopters are designed to land anywhere. Brownouts can happen anywhere. It is the reaction of the chopper pilot that matters. ” That the two Caverton pilots were able to do immediate engines shutdown, fuel shut OFF, battery switch OFF, and generators switch OFF and gently brought down the helicopter deserved commendation “.
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Recall the AIB preliminary report on the crash on Wednesday said : “During cruise at 5,000 ft and at about 10 minutes to touchdown, the crew noticed the flight recorder light on the Crew Alerting System (CAS) come ON. Quick Reference Handbook items were accomplished. Another helicopter operated by Nigeria Police Force (Bell 412; 5N-PEJ) landed ahead of NGR002. The crew briefed on landing in brownout and used the Company’s Brownout Landing Procedures.”
“During the landing, at about 50 ft to touchdown, a heavy brownout enveloped the helicopter and the crew lost visual contact with the ground. The Co-Pilot called out radio altimeter 35, 30, 25, 20, 15 and no more. At about 14:34 h, the helicopter touched down hard on the right main landing gear and rolled over to the right. The crew carried out Emergency Landing Procedures which included immediate engines shutdown, fuel shut OFF, battery switch OFF, and generators switch OFF. All occupants of the helicopter were evacuated uninjured. However, the helicopter was substantially damaged”, the report added.