FG Suspends Bristow ‘Sikorsky’ Helicopters Operation in Nigeria

The Federal Government yesterday ordered Bristow Helicopters to stop further usage of its Sikorsky-76C++ helicopter type in all its operation in Nigeria, The Sun reports.

The suspension came following the  accident involving the Sikorsky aircraft type which was deliberately ditched into the Atlantic Ocean by the pilot on Wednesday to save the lives of its 11 occupants following what many analysts feared could have been a major fault on the aircraft which the pilot found difficult to manage to its final destination.

The Sikorsky helicopter type forms the core of the fleet mostly deployed by Bristow Helicopters for its charter operations for energy companies and staff  in Nigeria’s deep offshore oil and gas industry.

Last year (August, 2015), the same aircraft type operated by Bristow had crashed into a Lagos lagoon at Oworoshoki area killing six of  the 12 passengers on board.  Bristow Helicopters had also recorded two other crashes in Eket and Port Harcourt with similar aircraft type which claimed the lives of passengers on board.

Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday, said government could no longer allow the US helicopter firm the continued use of the Sikorsky aircraft given the obvious tragedies recorded in the country with it.                

“The regulatory authority views with utmost seriousness the successive mishaps of Bristow Helicopters’ operating aircraft SikorskyS-76C++ on the coastal waters of Lagos and as a responsible authority, it is important to stem this rapidity of occurrence and ensure the airline carry out safe operations,” said Usman.

“We have therefore decided to suspend the operation of the Bristow Helicopters Limited Sikorsky S-76C++ type till further notice. This suspension will enable the NCAA carry out a full scale audit on its operations with particular emphasis on its Sikorsky S-76C++ type and these decisions are without prejudice to the investigations being conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB),” he added.

Usman said the NCAA will fully support AIB in the investigation. A brief background on the Sikorsky S-76 aircraft shows it is an American medium – size commercial utility helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

The Siklorsky-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 for oil drilling industry.



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