UK aviation firm begins audit of Bristow helicopter operations in Nigeria

BristowA United Kingdom aviation firm, Avatech Limited, has commenced an independent audit of the operations of Bristow in Nigeria following the recent ditching of one of its helicopters.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Tolu Olubajo, Senior Legal Director, Africa Region, Bristow Group, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on Monday in Lagos.

NAN reports that 11 persons on board were rescued after a Bristow Helicopter marked 5N-BQJ enroute Lagos from an off-shore location in Port Harcourt ditched into the Atlantic Ocean on Feb.3.

The incident occurred barely six months after another of the airline’s Sikorsky S-76C choppers went down into the Lagos Lagoon, resulting in the death of six persons.

Olubajo confirmed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had lifted the suspension it placed on the operations of Bristow Helicopter Sirkorsky S-76 aircraft on Feb.4.

He said the suspension followed completion of the NCAA’s comprehensive operational audit and extensive return to service safety activities carried out by the company.

“We thank the NCAA for conducting a thorough review of our operations. We completed a detailed safety inspection of our S-76 fleet in compliance with the NCAA directive, and test flights for all 15 aircraft.

“We have also engaged a reputable independent third party aviation firm to conduct an additional review of our operations in Nigeria.

“The external audit, which started yesterday, has been approved by the NCAA,” Olubajo said.

According to him, the review should be extended to other similar air operators so that best practices can be shared by all operators to enhance safety in the country.

“We maintain our aircraft to industry standards in accordance with special maintenance and monitoring programs developed by the aircraft and engine manufacturers that are fully approved by the NCAA.

“We will continue to cooperate fully with the Accident Investigation Board, which is investigating the events of Feb.3 to determine the cause,” Olubajo said.

He also confirmed that the airline had commenced payment of compensation to the families of those who died in the Aug. 12, 2015 chopper crash.

Olubajo said: “We thank our clients for their unwavering support during this time and remain steadfast in our commitment to continuing to honour our contractual obligations with them.

“Bristow has been committed to Nigeria for nearly 50 years and we will continue to invest in support for our customers and the country.

“Bristow has operated variants of the S-76 type for more than 35 years and remains confident in the Sikorsky S-76 family of aircraft, which has an enviable safety record spanning many decades with more than 6.8 million flight hours.

“Safety remains our number one core value and our Target Zero culture governs every decision by the company.”



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