Bristow incident: Pilot declared Mayday twice—AIB

The commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Dr. Felix Abali, has given more insights into the Bristow Helicopters’ Sikorsky 76C++ aircraft marked 5N-BQJ which ditched into the Atlantic Ocean on February 3, 2016.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos Monday, Abali said pilot of the chopper declared Mayday twice before the helicopter was ditched.
Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications.
It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by aviators and mariners. The call is always given three times in a row “Mayday Mayday Mayday” to prevent its being mistaken for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.
“The crew declared May Day twice. The first was declared by the crew at the 78 Nautical Miles from Lagos complaining of instrument problems. The aircraft descended from 3000 feet to 1500 feet. At this time the flying officer (FO) was the pilot flying (PF).
“The captain took over control expecting to stabilise the helicopter but the aircraft was not responding to control inputs. She declared the 2nd May Day to the radio operator at the offshore platform, which was relayed to the air traffic controller by two separate aircraft. One aircraft was following the communication and relayed the ditching, which occurred at 10:20am at 29 nautical miles away from the platform,” he said.
After the rescue, Abali said the nine passengers and two crew members were met by AIB where they (passengers and crew) were transferred to Lagoon Hospital, Lagos Island.
He said toxicological tests administered on the crew proved negative of any substance abuse.
He said initial field investigation was carried out by AIB and vital components relevant to the investigation including flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (FDR/CVR) and the cockpit image recorder were retrieved for further investigation.
The commissioner said essential flight recorders will be flown out for downloading while TRIM actuators would be sent to the manufacturers for investigative testing.


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