Bristow Helicopter crash: NCAA suspends operation of Sikorsky S-76C aircraft

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the Bristow Helicopters Limited's Sikorsky S-76C type of aircraft from flying  in Nigeria due to the successive mishaps of the said aircraft type on the coastal waters of Lagos.

The Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, while addressing journalists in Lagos on Thursday, said the suspension was to enable the agency to carry out full-scale
audit on Bristow operations with particular emphasis on its Sikorsky S-76C family of aircraft.

Reliable sources told Vanguard that three of the survivors suffered a medical condition known as hypothermia but they are currently said to be in a stable condition.

Hypothermia, a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, in this case the Atlantic Ocean, which the chopper "ditched" into.

According to the sources, another survivor had a swollen arm while the fifth had a swollen shoulder. The others, including two crew members, did not suffer any serious injuries from the crash.

Captain Usman said "On the heels of the Bristow Helicopter's controlled ditching yesterday, 3rd February 2016. I consider it expedient to communicate to you certain decisions that the Authority has taken concerning the incident. "These decisions are without prejudice to the investigations being conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). As a matter of fact, it will serve to assist the entire process. The Authority will fully support AIB in the investigation. "The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has therefore decided to suspend the operation of the Bristow Helicopters SikorskyS-76C++ type till further notice," Usman stressed.

He pointed out that as a responsible regulatory agency, it was important to stem the rapidity of occurrence and ensure that the airline carried out safe operations.

"The suspension is not to pass a vote of no confidence in the helicopter services company. It is to ascertain the adequacy and propriety of the operating aircraft type. This is not new in the industry; it is one of the standard operating procedures all over the world," Usman added.

Meanwhile, in a statement on its website, Bristow Helicopters said it would cooperate with the NCAA and the AIB in their investigations into the cause of the incident.

Bristow stated that all nine passengers and two crew on board the aircraft, with tail number 5N-BQJ, arrived at an onshore installation with minor injuries.

The firm said it had also established a dedicated telephone hotline for family members of those on board the flight.

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