Pilot's lack of situational awareness caused police chopper crash - Report

The operator did not provide guidance in a number of areas, hence poor coordination.

In Summary

• During the accident, two pilots and four passengers were extricated from the wreckage; two with serious injuries and four with minor injuries of varying degrees.

• There was no pre-or post-impact fire, but the helicopter was damaged after colliding with trees and terrain.

Wreckage of the police chopper that was involved in accident in June, 2020.
Wreckage of the police chopper that was involved in accident in June, 2020.
Image: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

The Ministry of Transport has concluded investigations into an accident involving a helicopter operated by the National Police Service Air Wing.

The accident happened on June 13 last year at Kaithe, Meru county.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Department (AAID) classified the occurrence that involved Agusta Westland AW119 passenger helicopter, with registration 5Y-NPW as an “accident‟ owing to the substantial damage to the Aircraft and serious injuries suffered by two occupants.

Transport CS James Macharia in a statement on Monday said the probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s lack of situational awareness.

“The investigation identified the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s lack of situational awareness, and the decision to continue the flight into deteriorating weather conditions that occasioned spatial disorientation after inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent loss of helicopter control,” Macharia said.

During the accident, two pilots and four passengers were extricated from the wreckage; two with serious injuries and four with minor injuries of varying degrees.

There was no pre-or post-impact fire, but the helicopter was damaged after colliding with trees and terrain.

The cyclic control and pedals
The cyclic control and pedals
Image: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

The CS added that the investigation further established that the NPSAW Standard Operating Procedures did not provide guidance in a number of areas, which contributed to poor decision-making and coordination.

Agusta Westland AW119MKII is manufactured by Leonardo Helicopters and was manufactured in 2014.

It was also revealed that the pilot was certified by the KCAA and qualified to fly the AW 119 MK-II aircraft.

The captain of the accident aircraft joined the National Police Service in 2011, underwent a 15-month basic recruit course before being posted to Habaswein in Wajir.

He was then absorbed by the NPSAW in 2013, where he initially trained as a fixed-wing pilot, before proceeding to South Africa in 2016 where he attained PPL (H) and CPL (H).

In 2017, he went through AW 119 kx factory training in Philadelphia in the United States of America before training with NPSAW pilots in 2018 and was elevated to a captain and promoted to the rank of Inspector of Police in 2019.