3 rescued after copter ditched off Abu Dhabi coast

Investigation into controlled ditching underway: GCAA

DUBAI 10 May 2017: The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said it is investigating an air accident involving an AgustaWestland 139 helicopter, operated by Abu Dhabi Aviation, which conducted a controlled ditching off the coast of Mubarras Island, Abu Dhabi, on 29th April 2017.

The GCAA said on Tuesday that the helicopter was transporting oil industry workers and had left Abu Dhabi International Airport at approximately 12:05 UAE local time with two flight crewmembers and five passengers onboard. The first flight was uneventful and the helicopter landed at 12:31 on an oil rig where four passengers disembarked, according to a press statement from the GCAA.

After departure for the second destination, the flight crew received a warning message, and accordingly the commander decided to descend to a lower altitude and divert to the nearest heliport which was approximately seven minutes away. During the descent, a mechanical noise was noticed and this, together with the warning, resulted in the decision of the commander to conduct a controlled ditching. A ‘Mayday’ call was made on the emergency radio frequency.

People Rescued

Both crewmembers and the passenger exited the helicopter uninjured and boarded the helicopter’s emergency raft. The helicopter was completely immersed in water but the floatation devices kept the helicopter at the surface until it was recovered. The three occupants were rescued by the UAE coastguard and a precautionary medical check was performed, the GCAA said.

The helicopter and the flight recorder were recovered and transported to Abu Dhabi.

The recorder’s data have been successfully downloaded and are being analysed by the investigation team for the purpose of determining the cause of the accident.

“Any air accident requires rapid investigation. In this instance the crew and passengers escaped uninjured so the priority now is to support the investigation to find out the reasons behind the unfortunate event,” Saif Mohamed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of GCAA.

“We will be working closely with the manufacturer and relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident and to prevent reoccurrence,” Ismaeil Mohammed Al Hosani, Assistant Director-General for Air Accident Investigation Sector (AAIS), added.

According to the international standards contained in Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the GCAA, represented by the AAIS, will lead the investigation into the accident. The Italian investigation authority, ANSV, was notified about the accident and was entitled to appoint accredited representative to participate in the investigation as Italy is the State of Design and Manufacture of the helicopter. The European Aviation Safety Agency has been notified, being the organisation responsible for the continuing airworthiness of the aircraft.

The Helicopter

The AW139 is a new generation medium twin-turbine helicopter setting new standards against which all medium twins are measured. Designed with inherent multi-role capability and flexibility of operation, the AW139 is capable of carrying up to 15 passengers at very high speed, in a most spacious and comfortable cabin. The ample baggage compartment is accessible both from the cabin and externally.

aw139 augusta westland helicopter ad aviation

The AW139 provides the best power reserve of any helicopter in the medium twin-engine class. A brand new helicopter, it fully complies with the latest stringent requirements in terms of performance and safety. Its Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C turbines, together with a state-of-the-art 5-bladed main rotor, deliver a high cruise speed even in demanding conditions at all weights.

They deliver an outstanding power to weight ratio, which allows Category “A” performance capabilities with no limitations in a wide range of operating conditions including ‘hot and high’. Leading edge technology includes a Honeywell Primus Epic fully integrated avionics system, a 4-axis digital AFCS and large flat panel colour displays in the cockpit. Full icing protection is available as an option.

As a result of the new design approach the AW139 uses fewer components, benefits from integrated avionics and provides easy accessibility to all systems for simplified maintenance tasks. The AW139 can be used for a wide range of applications including executive/VIP transport, EMS/SAR, offshore OGP support, fire fighting, law enforcement, paramilitary and military roles.

By Rajive Singh