Less than 24 hours after one of its choppers ditched into the Lagos Lagoon killing six of the 12 souls on board, Bristow Helicopters Thursday suspended its operation.
This is just as the airline said it has informed the next of kin of the affected families that lost their members in the crash.
The airline said its two pilots were among the dead recovered from the Lagoon by rescue agencies.
The airline said six persons rescued from the lagoon are receiving treatment at the hospital.
The airline is yet to release the manifest of passengers that were on board the ill- fated chopper.
In a statement by its regional manager, West Africa, Duncan Moore the airline said:” The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76C+, was returning from a drilling rig offshore. Preliminary information indicates that the aircraft carried 10 passengers and a crew of two, the company is in the process of collecting pertinent information and will release more details as soon as it is available.
“At this time, the full resources of Bristow Helicopter’s incident response team are being mobilized. Families are being contacted and Bristow is fully cooperating with authorities responding to the incident.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by this accident,” said Bristow’s Regional Director Africa, Duncan Moore. “We are committing our full resources to help.
“Our highest priority is to take care of our crew and clients and their family members and provide them with any assistance needed,” Moore said.
Bristow personnel are currently working to confirm the number of people on board, their identities and the extent of any injuries. Bristow will continue to release additional information as soon as it is confirmed.”
According to an official of the airline, there are no plans to phase out the chopper type that crashed.
He said:” We are still flying the C+ as we don’t have reason at this point to suspend operations. It is a sound aircraft with a strong safety record. The chopper uses the engine type called: Turbomeca Arriel. The C+ is flown in the Gulf of Mexico and Nigeria; 10 in the GOM, and four in Nigeria.”
The airline said it has reached understanding with the client that hired the chopper not to disclose it’s identify.
On the status of the aircraft the airline said: “It is not an old aircraft. Bristow is in full compliance with regulatory directives issued for our aircraft. Special maintenance and monitoring programs developed by the aircraft and engine manufacturers, the helicopter operators and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in recent years have ensured all our aircraft are maintained to optimum standards.”
He said: “It was daylight with good visibility. It would be premature to comment pending investigation by authorities. There were 12 on board, 10 passengers and two crew. The pilots were well qualified and experienced pilots.
“We have stood down operations at Bristow Helicopters Nigeria as of 8/13/15. Decisions will be made on a daily basis.
“It is much too early to talk about the cause of this incident. It will take weeks or months of investigation to determine why the incident happened.
“The investigation will be conducted by the AIB; will cooperate fully in that investigation. We will not speculate about what may have been the cause, and we encourage others not to speculate. Our pilots are trained to the highest standards in the industry.”
Moore said: “The aircraft is air worthy and that is being confirmed by the NCAA. We have no indication at this time was cause the crash. We can now confirm that there are six survivors and six fatalities including the crew.
“An operation to recover the aircraft is ongoing and we are co-operating with all the authorities in the cause of investigation so we don’t really know the cause of the crash at the moment, I know it is very difficult but we will caution against speculation, we must be very sensitive to the feeling of people at times like this and that why last night, we were a bid late in sending our press release because we wanted to find out what went wrong before getting to the public.
“For those who know Bristow Helicopters, you know that safety is our priority, our team across the world is shocked by the accident that occurred