R-E-V-E-A-L-E-D! Real reason Quorum Helicopter crashed in Lagos

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(Pix shows a car damaged by the crash and RRS Commander, Disu and other rescue worker at the scene yesterday...

 

By Mary BASSEY, Senior Investigator Reporter, Lagos/

WITH the Accident Investigation Bureau AIB still exploring possible leads that would unveil the immediate and remote cause of the crash in Lagos Friday, of  a Quorum Helicopter N5 BQW, multiple sources at the nation’s aviation industry have given insight to what would probably have caused the accident that claimed 2 and destruction of property. A senior aeronautic engineer source at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA has said that the crash could have been caused by three major reasons which include pilot error, lack of fuel, and mechanical failure. According to the source who said mechanical failure could chiefly be responsible for the crash informed that failing to properly plan a flight path, operating the helicopter in unsafe conditions and of course, lack of maintenance of the helicopter  were likely to bring down the craft anytime. The source said, “As a professional with over 30 years and still counting who should not talk now because it might pre-empt the outcome of the AIB investigations, I can tell you authoritatively that when a helicopter loses an engine, it doesn’t fall to the ground like when you throw up a stone and it responds to the force of gravity. In such instance, what happens is that the craft goes into what we call an “autorotation” and as a trained Pilot; you reduce the pitch of the rotor blades and create a wind- milling effect as air blows up through the rotor blades and the aircraft loses altitude. The next thing you do as the pilot is to maintain the rotor speed and momentum and then turn it either right or left to decrease forward speed while simultaneously increasing collective to slow the descent. When you are sure that your craft is over the touchdown area, you pull back on the cyclic properly to allow for gentle and safe landing. If these measures are employed, you bet there won’t be any damage or casualty. So what I am saying is that, the crash this afternoon could not have been majorly, (mark the word, majorly) due to faulty engine; it could a combination of the factors earlier noted. Like I said,  a fuel shortage can cause an accident in a helicopter especially when flown in an unsafe weather condition. The hotter a summer, the more of Jet ‘A 1’ fuel is consumed especially, when the flight operation is not properly mapped out.  Don’t forget that we have not had rains for months now even though we are supposed to be in a raining season. Depending on the sophistication of the engine, a helicopter is not expected to hover for more than two hours non-stop because each has an endurance timeframe. And in the case of the Quorum helicopter which we heard was coming from Port Harcourt, it is expected that the pilot should have known the distance between the two states.  All said, mechanical error is likely to have caused the crash because, whereas a twin-engine passengers aircraft can comfortably fly on one engine, that cannot be so with a helicopter because it does not have such safety valve. The moment there is a slight failure of a key helicopter component such as the rotor and rotor shaft, main gearbox or tail rotor, the next thing is crash; resulting in fatality.

*Distress alert beacon recovered at the scene of the crash…

Earlier, Quorum Aviation Limited, owners of the crashed craft marked 5N-BQW had said that accident which claimed two lives and another seriously wounded was coming from Port Harcourt to Murtala Muhammed International Airport  MMIA adding,  “A light helicopter belonging to Quorum Aviation with registration Number 5N-BQW flying from Port-Harcourt to Lagos crashed between two buildings in Ikeja en-route to Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. As soon as we received news of the accident, we promptly informed the aviation authorities, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Preliminary reports indicate that of the three souls on board – all crew, two of the crew members lost their lives whilst the third one is currently receiving treatment at a hospital. We have been made to understand that nobody in the building, nor in the vicinity was injured for which we are grateful. In accordance with aviation regulations, the AIB has taken over the investigation process. We hereby ask members of the public to await the outcome of the investigation. We hereby express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the crew who lost their loved ones in this tragic accident.”

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