The Military yesterday blamed the crash of the Nigerian Navy Augusta Helicopter marked NN07, which came down in the bushes of Okoroba area of Bayelsa State, on human and material error.
A statement from the Nigerian Navy said the report, which was an interim one, was released by the Accident Investigation Board (AIB) constituted by the Nigerian Air Force at the instance of the Navy to ascertain the cause of the fatal crash in which the Governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Patrick Yakowa and the former national security adviser, General Andrew Azazi, were killed.
The statement signed by Commodore Kabiru Aliyu was silent on what “human and material failure” could mean to a layman but Daily Sun learnt from other sources that the human aspect of the error could be linked to some things the air wing of the force was supposed to do but did not do before the ill-fated flight, while the material error was linked to issues concerning the state of the engine before the flight.
The statement by the Navy reads: “The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) constituted by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at the instance of the Nigerian Navy to ascertain the cause of the fatal crash involving the Nigerian Navy Augusta helicopter, which occurred on December 15, 2012 has submitted an interim report to the Naval Headquarters.
“The investigation, which was conducted by aviation experts in collaboration with the manufacturers, Augusta Westland, has stated that the cause of the crash could either be human error or material failure or a combination of both.
“However, to determine the actual cause of the crash there would be the need to tear down the engine of the helicopter to carry out detailed forensic analysis. This aspect of the investigation will be carried out by Turbomeca, the manufacturers of the engine.”
The report said, “it is important to emphasise that an independent police report has equally ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the crash. Further information on the investigation would be made public when available.”
The helicopter had on December 15, 2012, during a shuttle flight from Okoroba in Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, crashed killing the pilot, co-pilot, General Azazi and his aide and the Kaduna State governor and his aide. The crashed Nigerian Navy helicopter, it was reported, had flown 1,704 flight hours before the crash that claimed six lives.
The Navy had in a statement after its preliminary investigation, said the helicopter had more than 80 flight hours before its next scheduled routine maintenance. Augusta 109 helicopter is one of three Nigerian Navy choppers used in vectoring ships for interdiction and interception operations.
The Nigerian Navy employs helicopters to enhance its maritime capability by utilising the speed and long range of the helicopters. On the fateful day of the crash, the Navy had assigned the chopper to fly politicians to and from the coastal Okoroba village in Bayelsa where an aide of President Goodluck Jonathan, Oronto Douglas, hosted a burial ceremony for his late father.
Witnesses said the chopper burst into flames before crashing into the creeks with its victims. The navy had dismissed “engine problems”, saying the chopper was certified to fly by a “certified technical support engineer.” “Nigerian Navy helicopters, including the NN07 that crashed, are properly maintained and serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications,” Chief of Training and Operations at Naval Headquarters, Emmanuel Ogbor, a rear admiral, said.