February 12, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has offered its full cooperation to the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the investigation of the tragic Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash that killed the founding Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe, and five others.
THEWILL reports that Wigwe died along with his wife, son and former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo, on Friday night, in a helicopter crash in California, United States.
The NSIB is the multimodal transport agency in Nigeria saddled with the responsibility of promoting transport safety and conducting investigations into transport accidents while the NTSB is the counterpart agency in the United States charged with fulfilling the same function as the NSIB.
In an official statement issued by Mrs Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji, Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, the agency informed that the NTSB had already dispatched its “Go Team” to investigate the accident.
According to the statement, the Director General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, Captain Alex Badeh, established contact with the 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.
The NSIB said 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.”
ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil therefore grants Nigeria, through the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, the prerogative to appoint an expert to actively participate in the investigation.
“This participation ensures access to relevant information and facilitates cooperation with the investigating authorities, towards ensuring the investigation reaches a conclusive outcome,” it said.
It further added that the “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.”
“Correspondence between the NSIB and NTSB further revealed that the NTSB investigation into the crash is being led by Aaron Sauer as the investigator in charge, supported by Mark Ward as the deputy investigator in charge.
“Several other NTSB investigators will also be examining various aspects of the accident, including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology and air traffic control. 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.
“In tandem, the operations investigation group has commenced gathering crucial company information, including pilot records, flight dispatch records, and aircraft maintenance records.
“Moving forward, coordination is underway by the NTSB to transfer the wreckage to a secure location on Tuesday, for in-depth examination and analysis scheduled Parties to the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, and the FAA. 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 duration of the accident investigation being conducted by NTSB is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete. 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,” the statement concluded.