The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the operation of the Bristow Helicopters Limited’s Sikorsky S-76C++ type till further notice.
According to the Director General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, the suspension will enable the authority carry out a full scale audit on its operations with particular emphasis on its Sikorsky S-76C++ type.
He made this known while briefing aviation correspondents at NCAA Annex, at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
The decision, the director general, stated was coming on the heels of the Bristow Helicopters’ controlled ditching yesterday, February 3, 2016, adding that the regulatory body considered it expedient to communicate certain decisions that the authority has taken concerning the incident
These decisions, he stated were without prejudice to the investigations being conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), adding that as a matter of fact, it would serve to assist in the entire process.
NCAA, he added would fully support AIB in the investigation.
The regulatory authority, the DG stated viewed with utmost seriousness the successive mishaps of Bristow Helicopters’ operating aircraft SikorskyS-76C++ on the coastal waters of Lagos.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has therefore decided to suspend the operation of the Bristow Helicopters Limited’s Sikorsky S-76C++ type till further notice. This suspension will enable the authority carry out a full scale audit on its operations with particular emphasis on its Sikorsky S-76C++ type.” he said
The Sikorsky S-76 aircraft, according to him is an American medium – size commercial utility helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
The S-76 features twin turbo shaft engines; four-bladed main and tail rotors. It has a retractable landing gear.
Sikorsky’s development began in the mid-1970s with the design goal of providing a medium helicopter for corporate transportation and the oil drilling industry.
The prototype first flew on March 13, 1977, while initial United States Federal Aviation Administration type certification was granted on November 21, 1978.
NCAA recalled that August 12, 2015, a Bristow Helicopter operated Sikorsky S-76 series crashed around Oworonshoki axis in Lagos, adding what this means is that yesterday’s incident is occurring a little over six months after the preceding one.
He pointed out that as a responsible regulatory authority, it was important to stem this rapidity of occurrence and ensure the airline carry out safe operations, adding that the suspension was not to pass a vote of no confidence in the embattled helicopter giant.
In his words, “I must also mention that this suspension of operations for the impending wholesale audit is not a vote of no confidence on the airline. It is to ascertain the adequacy and propriety of the operating aircraft type. This is not new in the industry; it is one of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) all over the world.”
Meanwhile, Bristow said that it would cooperate with NCAA and AIB in its investigation.
“We are continuing to cooperate fully with the NCAA and the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau (NAIB) in its investigation concerning the Bristow helicopter that was involved in the controlled water landing near Lagos on Feb. 3, 2016.” Bristow said in an online statement.
Bristow disclosed that all nine passengers and two crew onboard the aircraft (tail number 5N-BQJ) that was involved in a controlled water landing today near Lagos, have arrived at an onshore installation, with only minor injuries being reported at this time.
The rotary wing giant stated that it was cooperating fully with local authorities in its investigation to determine the cause and to begin recovery of the aircraft, which is located approximately 75 nautical miles offshore.