, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 11 – Kenyans were still curious on Monday over the probable cause of Sunday’s helicopter crash that claimed six public officers, even as the government launched a public inquiry.
Aviation experts interviewed by Capital FM News were dumbfounded given the Eurocopter AS350 B3e was a brand new helicopter that was acquired by the Kenya Police just five months ago.
“If its safety record is ok and the pilots’ record was not questionable, then it leaves a lot to be desired given bad weather is not an issue here,” a pilot operating a private commercial aircraft at the Wilson airport said.
A team from Eurocopter, the manufacturers of the ill-fated aircraft is in town to investigate the air crash of a chopper they said is the first to be acquired in Africa, with the highest desired safety record.
“It is no doubt one of the best helicopters around, given its modern features,” the pilot said.
Information on a helicopter history site heli.com states that the helicopter boasts several enhancements over previous AS350 variants, including an updated Turbomeca Arriel 2D turbine engine allowing better take-off performances while decreasing maintenance costs.
“When you look at it and the features it had you get to appreciate what it could do, but since it failed within five months, it leaves a lot of questions. Unless, in this case then it was not new,” another pilot at the Kenya Police Air wing said, requesting not to be named.
The officer in charge of the Kenya Police Air-Wing Rogers Mbithi could not comment on reports that one of the pilots who perished in the crash Nancy Gituanja was not scheduled to fly the helicopter and only took over because the officer who was supposed to take over was not around.
Gituanja and co-pilot Luke Oyugi perished in the crash alongside two bodyguards assigned to the late Professor Saitoti.
An official at the Kenya Police Airwing told Capital FM News that the helicopter took off from the Wilson airport at 0832 hrs and remained on the airports radar until 0845hrs when it disappeared but could be seen through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) radar that has a wider coverage for only two minutes when it is believed to have crashed.
On Monday, the government formed a five-member team headed by Appeal Judge Kalpana Rawal to probe the helicopter crash.
Others in the five-member probe team are Air Force Commander Major General Harold Tangai, George McOwenga, Charles Mutinda and Faith Irari.