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Wigwe: US, Nigeria Collaborate To Probe Helicopter Crash

“All significant components of the helicopter, including the main transmission, engine, and various avionic elements, were identified and accounted for at the accident site.”

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has indicated that it would cooperate with the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the investigation of the helicopter crash.

NSIB is a multi-modal transport agency in Nigeria responsible for promoting transport safety and conducting objective and thorough investigations into transport accidents. Similarly, NTSB is the counterpart agency in the United States charged with fulfilling the same function as NSIB.

NTSB had confirmed the helicopter crash, which occurred near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California.

Following the crash, Director General of NSIB, Captain Alex Badeh, established contact with NTSB, in accordance with Chapter 5 subsection 27 of ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation – Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, which grants a State (nation) special interest in an accident involving its citizens.

According to NSIB, section 5.27 indicates that a state, which has a special interest in an accident by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens, shall be entitled to appoint an expert who shall be entitled to: visit the scene of the accident; have access to the relevant information, which is approved for public release by the State conducting the investigation, and information on the progress of the investigation; and receive a copy of the Final Report.

NSIB, in the statement made available to THISDAY, stated that ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation granted Nigeria, through the bureau, the prerogative to appoint an expert to actively participate in the investigation. It stated that the participation would ensure access to relevant information and facilitate cooperation with the investigating authorities, towards ensuring the investigation reached a conclusive outcome.

NSIB stated, “The ongoing discussion between the NSIB and NTSB has highlighted the diligent investigation efforts of the NTSB. NTSB investigators were present at the crash scene in Halloran Springs, California, on Saturday to collect evidence and conduct initial on-scene documentation. The documentation process included aerial mapping of the wreckage with a drone, and site measurements.”

The agency also disclosed that correspondence between NSIB and NTSB further revealed that the NTSB investigation into the crash was being led by Aaron Sauer as the investigator in charge, supported by Mark Ward as the deputy investigator in charge.

Several other NTSB investigators would also be examining various aspects of the accident, including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology, and air traffic control.

NSIB added, “Notably, the airworthiness investigation group initiated a meticulous examination of the debris field, which spans approximately 100 yards. All significant components of the helicopter, including the main transmission, engine, and various avionic elements, were identified and accounted for at the accident site.”

It also said, “Parties to the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). As the investigation continues, other parties could be named. Additionally, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the French aviation accident investigation agency, will also serve as an accredited representative, due to France being the state of manufacturer for the Airbus helicopter and Turbomeca Engine. Both Airbus Helicopters and Turbomeca Engines will serve as technical advisors to the investigation.”

The agency disclosed that the accident investigation being conducted by NTSB was expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete.

It explained, “The actual duration depends on many factors. Each investigator carries a caseload of many accident investigations, which they work on concurrently, and each investigation presents its unique complexities.

“The NTSB accident investigation process typically comprises three major milestones. The first is the preliminary investigation report, which contains information gathered by investigators during the on-scene examination. This report is expected to be released within 14 to 21 days following the date of the examinations.

“The next milestone involves the compilation of the public docket, which includes a collection of information gathered throughout the investigation. This typically includes photographs, interview summaries, documentation, and other relevant data. Finally, the third milestone is the publication of the final aviation accident report, which serves to conclude the investigation. This report may take up to two years to complete and usually contains analysis and a statement of the probable cause of the accident, if determined.”

NSIB reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate fully with NTSB to achieve a thorough and conclusive investigation that will enhance transport safety in both Nigeria and the United States.

The agency stated, “The Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash has brought a colossal loss to our dear nation Nigeria. Our hearts go out to the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families and loved ones affected by this tragedy. We extend our deepest sympathies to them during this difficult time.”