Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s helicopter crash on February 2, 2019 was caused by an inflight visibility restriction, the Accident Investigation Bureau has revealed.
During the last election campaigns, Osinbajo had departed Abuja on a chartered helicopter flight to Kabba in continuation of the family chats and next level engagements.
The Agusta Westland 139 chopper with registration number 5N-CML owned and operated by Caverton Helicopters Limited had crash-landed at Kabba Stadium.
AIB Commissioner, Akin Olateru, said the crew of the flight, which took off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for Kogi, sighted the intended landing area – a football field – and “approached with the speed of 20 kt to about a 100 ft, and entered a hover to land”.
Listing the causal factors, Olateru blamed the incident on misjudgment of distance by the crew members, inappropriate landing techniques and non-adherence to the landing process.
He also said the helicopter operator failed to conduct risk assessment of the landing preparedness.
He said, “Onboard 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 20ft to about a 100ft, and entered a hover to land.
“At about 50ft 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 14:34h, 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.
“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, the crew tried to control the helicopter’s movements for landing. The helicopter landed hard and rolled over on its right side.
“Inappropriate landing technique used, non-adherence to company procedures for known or anticipated brownout conditions during landing and lack of risk assessment, limited landing site preparation, and planning prior to commencement of the flight."