A Bell 206-B3 helicopter with registration number 5N-BQW, which crashed on Salvation Road, Opebi, Lagos State, on Friday, was declared non-airworthy three years ago, SaharaReporters can report.
The helicopter crashed with three persons onboard.
While two crew members died on the spot, the third person earlier rescued and taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, later died.
Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that the crashed helicopter was declared non-airworthy in 2017 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
The aircraft was also used in the past by different Nigerian airline operators to dupe NCAA into issuing them Air Operators’ Certificates.
The AOC, which authorises an operator to carry out specific commercial air transport operations, is issued once the NCAA was satisfied that the operator had the required personnel, assets, and systems to ensure the safety of its employees and general public.
An operator applying for AOC is required to have an air transport license from the NCAA, which permits it to operate scheduled passenger or cargo air services in the country.
A source told SaharaReporters that some of the operators use same helicopters previously presented by others to obtain AOCs from the NCAA including the ill-fated Bell 206-3 aircraft with registration number 5N-BQW.
The crashed aircraft, the source disclosed, was used at different times by Omni-Blue Aviation Services and Quorum Aviation to obtain AOCs from the NCAA.
“The ill-fated copter was declared non-airworthy in 2017 when it was discovered that most of the equipment on board have expired.
"Then, Quorum Aviation had approached the NCAA for AOC license and it was discovered that the helicopter was faulty. NCAA also accused the management of refusing to maintain the engine of the aircraft.
“How Quorum Aviation was cleared to fly the aircraft after that was what I can’t really say.
“Imagine in 2016, Omni-Blue Aviation Services borrowed this crashed Bell 206-3 helicopter to obtain AOC from NCAA. A year after, Quorum Aviation applied for AOC with same helicopter,” he said.
Investigation into the cause of Friday's crash is currently ongoing.
Part of the building the helicopter crashed into was destroyed while some vehicles around the place were also damaged as a result of the incident.