The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released the preliminary report on the helicopter crash that occurred at the Opebi area of Lagos State on August 28, 2020.

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The accident involved a Bell 206B III helicopter with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQW operated by Quorum Aviation Limited.

The AIB revealed that there was no fuel in the tank of the ill-fated Bell 206B III Helicopter which crashed into a building at Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos on August 28.

The preliminary report revealed that the crashed helicopter had a valid Certificate of Airworthiness and that the chopper had no capacity to jettison fuel.

It also revealed that there was no evidence to show that an application for the exemption provided by the All Operators’ Letter AOL DG020/20 had been submitted to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

According to the report, the chopper had been topped to full tank capacity on August 27 at Port Harcourt before embarking on the journey the following day.

The report also indicated that there was no evidence showing that the pilot had applied for the exemption provided by the NCAA’s All Operators’ Letter AOL DG020/20 neither was there evidence of an application for the exemption provided by the AOL DG018/20 for proficiency check.

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According to the AIB, the chopper which took off from Port Harcourt at 9.20 AM estimated to land in Lagos after two hours forty minutes crashed into a residential building at 12.14 PM

It lost contact with the control tower at 11:16 am.

Part of the report read, “The helicopter was topped to full tank capacity on August 27th, 2020. After refuelling, 10 minutes of engine run and 20 minutes of test flight were carried out on August, 27th 2020 at Port Harcourt.

“The operational flight plan filed by the pilot indicated an endurance of 3:15 h and an estimated flight time of 2:45 h. The helicopter engine was started at 09:15 h. The helicopter took off at 09:20 h. The helicopter crashed at 12:14 h.

“There was no fuel left in the fuel tanks after the crash. The mast and main rotor blades were found intact during the post-crash inspection.”

However, operators of the crashed helicopter, Quorum Aviation Limited, has said that it sent a letter to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority requesting an extension of its pilot’s licence to fly the ill-fated Bell 206B III helicopter.

The company identified the pilot as Captain Chika Prudence Ernest.

The findings made by the AIB revealed that the pilot’s last medical examination was valid till August 6 while the proficiency check was valid till August 24.

According to the company, in a letter titled ‘Request for the extension of our pilot’s recency’, referenced an earlier memo by the NCAA titled ‘Ref: NCAA/DOT/GEN012/20/002- Exemption document pilot recency issued 18th June 2020’, it requested for the pilot’s extension and exemption 10 days before the crash.

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The letter was written by the Managing Director and Accountable Manager, Quorum Aviation Limited, Abiola Lawal.

According to Quorum Aviation, they sought to extend Ernest’s licence because of the challenges in organising additional crew travel training and his wealth of experience.

The letter also said that the airline was aware that his proficiency licence would expire August 24 but sought an extension till things settled down post-COVID-19.

The letter dated August 18th 2020 was directed to the NCAA Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, it said.

The letter made available to our correspondent read in part, “Given the challenges of the COVID-19 in organising additional crew travel and training, we hereby wish to request for the exemption/extension of our pilot Captian Chika Prudence Ernest Licence ATPL (H) 6245 under the above exemption granted by the DG in the above referenced circular.”