Kenya: Pilot's Poor Judgment Blamed for July 2020 Police Helicopter Crash in Meru

22 February 2021

Nairobi — An investigation report on the police helicopter crash that occurred in Meru in July 2020 has blamed the pilots' poor judgment as the cause of the accident.

The report by the Air Accident investigation team from the Transport Ministry said the pilot's decision to continue with the flight despite the deteriorating weather condition at the time was to blame for the accident that left six police officers, including two pilots injured.

The report states that the chopper, Agusta Westland AW119 helicopter, registration 5YNPW "lacked situational awareness in what subsequently led to spatial disorientation and loss of control".

The officers were flying to Marsabit for a security meeting.

The helicopter had lifted off from Wilson Airport and made a stop-over in Embu before it proceeded with the journey when it crashed in Meru while attempting an emergency landing to avoid hitting electric cables.

"Internal (personal-self-induced) and external (social), real or perceived pressure may have influenced the pilot's decisions to continue the flight," the report states in part.

It adds that the National Police Service Air Wing (NPSAW) standard operating procedures did not provide guidance in a number of areas, which contributed to poor decision-making and coordination.

The Chief Investigator of Accidents Martyn Lunani has since recommended that NPSAW should implement training programmes that enhance the knowledge of the flight crew in threat management, situation awareness and decision making.

Lunani has also recommended that NPSAW should review and approve at an appropriate level the Standard Operating procedure and Maintenance manuals.

In addition, Lunani has stressed that there is need for NPSAW to develop and implement an effective Safety Management System with emphasis on adequate risk assessment programs.

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