Investigation into helicopter accident off Abu Dhabi coast underway: says GCAA

The General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, said it is investigating into 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.

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, EASA, has been notified, being the organisation responsible for the continuing airworthiness of the aircraft.

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