Kenya: Drunk Pilot Lost Situational Awareness Ahead of Lake Nakuru Helicopter Crash - Report

20 November 2019

Nairobi — A pilot who was steering a helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru on October 21, 2017 killing five occupants lost situational awareness, a report by the Ministry of Transport has revealed.

Captain Apollo Malowa was under the influence of alcohol with a toxicological report indicating that he had as much as 0.041 g/100 ml blood alcohol concentration.

"The investigation findings revealed that the accident was attributed to collision with the water due to loss of situation awareness by the pilot who was under the influence of alcohol.

The pilot failed to recognize the loss of altitude, excessive banking to the left, and the obstacle proximity from the aircraft," the report compiled by Martyn Lunani, Chief Investigator of Accident concluded.

The report published on November 12 ruled out a technical mishap.

The AS350 B3 helicopter registered as 5Y-NMJ had only clocked 280 hours since it started operations and was less than two years since manufacturing.

The pilot of the ill-fated aircraft flew some 7 minutes around Lake Nakuru before the crash at 3.44am.

"Analysis of the flight within the last 5 minutes indicates that the pilot flew at low level to the ground/water with very small safety imagine in the event of loss of control. At one point the pilot was flying as low as 79ft above water," the report detailed.

A chronology detailing the last 30 seconds before the helicopter crash indicated the pilot flew at 1762 meters above sea level at 120 knots before initiating a sudden pitch at a speed of 50 knots.

"At 03:44:58 the helicopter was captured at 1762m amsl heading 120° doing a ground speed of 90knots, then suddenly he changed through 90° right to 320° and back to 90° heading and rolls through 140° as pitched up and banked to the left before he plunged into water. There was significant longitudinal acceleration of between -2 to -6 before crash."

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