Bristow Completes NCAA Imposed Comprehensive Audit
…As Sikorsky S—76 Resumes Flight Operations Today
Bristow Helicopters Nigeria Limited’s Sikorsky S-76 aircraft has commenced flight operations today following completion of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA) comprehensive operational audit on the 16 Sikorsky S-76 helicopters in its fleet.
The completion of the compulsory audit and resumption of operations by the airline using the Sikorsky S-76 choppers is coming a month after the airline was directed by NCAA to suspend the use of the aircraft type for its operations to allow for a comprehensive audit following two recent accidents.
Recalled that the regulatory body had suspended the use of Sikorsky S-76 helicopters in Bristow’s fleet on February 4,2016 ,a day after the ditching of its helicopter 5N-BQ.
The company confirmed the return of Sikorsky S-76 aircraft to service in an online statement made available this afternoon.
Speaking on the development ,the Bristow Group Vice President, Global Operations, Mike Imlach stated that it had completed detailed inspection of the rotary wing giant for the 16 S-76 series helicopters in its fleet and that test flights was also conducted.
According to him, “We thank the NCAA for conducting a thorough review of our operations.”
He continued, “We completed a detailed safety inspection of our S-76 series helicopters and test flights for all  S-76 aircraft in compliance with the NCAA. Our Group president and CEO, Jonathan Baliff, was a passenger in one of the approved non-revenue test flights to demonstrate his confidence in the safety of our S-76 fleet.”
Speaking further Imlach said, “Safety remains our number one core value and our Target Zero culture governs every decision by the company. We remain equally committed to continuing our safety work with all members of the aviation community, including other operators, to share best practices and support other initiatives that will help improve safety”,
Bristow added that it has concluded a number of return to service safety activities with flight crews, engineers and other service employees, clients and key stakeholders, as an additional precautionary measure prior to resuming the S-76 fleet to operation. The company listed these activities to include: maintenance assessment reviews, risk assessment and pre-flight safety briefings with passengers to give them the opportunity to talk to the crew and ask questions.
Bristow has also engaged a reputable independent third party aviation firm to conduct an additional review of its entire operations in Nigeria, hoping that the review be extended to other operators in Nigeria to ensure that best practices can be shared to enhance safety across the industry.
The airline added that already it has commenced discussions with a number of operators regarding their participation.
Bristow apart from complying with NCAA regulatory requirements and all Sikorsky directives for its fleet, it also maintains its aircraft to industry standards in accordance with special maintenance and monitoring programmes developed by the aircraft and engine manufacturers, that are fully approved by the regulatory body.
On the ongoing investigation, the Senior Legal Director Africa Region Tolu Olubajo, said, “We will continue to cooperate fully with the Accident Investigation Board (AIB), which is investigating the events of February 3, 2016, to determine the cause.”
“We thank our clients for their unwavering support during this time and remain steadfast in our commitment to continuing to honor 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.” he said
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.