Puzzle of ‘never-conducted’ probes after police chopper crashes

Monday, June 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i (centre), IG Hillary Mutyambai (left) and Gilbert Masengeli of the Border Police Unit when they received officials injured in a chopper crash at Wilson Airport on Saturday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

In January 2017 the Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) was to release a report on the circumstances leading to two police helicopter crashes the previous year.

The team, appointed through a Kenya Gazette Notice, was also to establish the extent of compliance with the technical as well as the operational standards and procedures.

The probe was never conducted and almost four years after the crash of Augusta Westland AW139 registration 5Y-NPS and Bell registration number 5Y-COP, the cause of the crashes that have cost taxpayers millions of shillings have not been established.

On Saturday, another police chopper, Augusta Westland AW119 crashed in Meru injuring the Eastern Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru, the Regional Commander Lydia Ligami, National Intelligence Service (NIS) coordinator Gilbert Magut and the DCI boss Jonah Kirui. The pilot Inspector Peter Kemboi and the co-pilot Jacinta Akorot also suffered slight injuries.

The Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has said investigators from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and AAID would investigate the crash and issue a report.

“We will have to wait for a report from the investigators,” he said. 

The ill-fated aircraft had been grounded for about two months when it was reportedly serviced and painted.

Reports also indicate that it was not insured despite the fact that the Airwing had entered into a contract with an insurance company.

Make recommendations

The chopper did not have a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) but sources said the investigators can rely on instruments at the position of coming down.

The pairing of the crews based on experience, especially for such a high key mission, will also be considered.

If conducted, the probe will seek to establish if the crash was caused by weather conditions, human factors including competence, training, and maintenance, among other factors.

 It is also expected to establish the extent of damage in terms of cost and loss of the chopper, and also the extent of injury to the crew and passengers who were on board.

In the process of investigating accidents the department is supposed to come up with findings and safety recommendations in form of reports as prescribed in International Civil Aviation format.

More on National