Kenya sets up inquiry into chopper crash

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the high powered team will be led by Court of Appeal Judge Kalpana Rawal/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – The government has instituted a public inquiry into Sunday’s helicopter crash that killed six government officials as details began to emerge of the final moments of the ill-fated flight.

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the high powered team will be led by Court of Appeal Judge Kalpana Rawal.

Others in the five-member probe team are Air Force Commander Major General Harold Tangai, George McOwenga, Charles Mutinda and Faith Irari.

“They will be constituted as a court and then all the stakeholders will appear and the families will be represented before members of the public are invited to come and express their views on the issue,” he added.

According to Kimunya the Eurocopter AS350 with registration number 5YCDT took off at Wilson Airport at 8.32am destined for Ndhiwa.

On board were Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojode and bodyguards Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi.

On the controls were Superintendent Nancy Gituanja and Superintendent Luke Oyugi.

“The flight was normal from 8.32am to 8.37am until when it was leaving Wilson Airport and was being handed over to another frequency 118.5 and they (crew) confirmed it had picked up the new frequency,” said the Minister.
“The last video tracking confirmed that as the last communication recorded and that is when it lost communication with control tower,” he added.

Kimunya said initial investigations were pointing away from bad weather as the cause of the accident, saying conditions were normal for the flight.

“The weather is not to blame for the cause of the accident. The video tracking indicates that we lost the plane at 8.42 a.m. The weather was fine in Ngong’ area and a visibility of eight kilometres,” he explained.

The brand new helicopter was manufactured last year and registered on July 27. It was delivered to the Kenya Police just five months ago, having flown for less than a hundred hours.

“The aircraft was licensed to carry a minimum of one pilot and five passengers,” he revealed.

“The procedure within the police air wing has been to provide two pilots manning the aircraft and a maximum of four passengers,” he added.

The pilots Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi had undergone specialised training for this particular model, and had been certified by the manufacturers to operate the helicopter.

“Gituanja was licensed as a commercial helicopter pilot in December 2009 and had a private helicopter license from April 2008. She had a total of 1166 hours and was trained by Eurocopter in South Africa on 25th of January. Oyugi also held a commercial license that was issued on January 2012 and a private license to fly helicopters in April 2008 and Eurocopter endorsed his license on the 16th of February,” he said.

“(By) the nature of this high profile investigation we will have to have a public inquiry into the causes. We will be constituting a team that will carry a public inquiry so that the family, public, manufacturer and every stake holder will have a platform for the truth of what happened and help the aviation industry to will avert such accidents,” he explained.

The Minister added that the public should desist from speculations and wait for the results of the inquiry.

“Through the inquiry we will get measures of avoiding such circumstances again,” he said.

  • Yakub21

    Why, why waste tax payers money when we all know the obvious? Try shoddy second hand vehicles obtained through shady dealings. If only these vehicles of transportation were acquired through efficiency and transparency these Kenyans perhaps  would still be alive.
    We have similar issues when buildings collapse because of lack of oversight, management and planning. When shall Kenyans learn?? ALL these happenings are because individual greed surpasses the interest of the whole nation. What a shame!!

    • Xhona

       I agree. Very few public officials show integrity in their work. Any life lost as a result of neglect is a great shame. I also agree that city councils send out professional teams to insure public safety before buildings get erected. There are so many Kenyans willing to learn and practice skills. Wake up government!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/martinbundii Martin Bundi Inoti

    we also like to know more information on the competency of the two pilots — training and the hours completed before assuming their latter duties.

  • E Mithamo

    It is important at this stage that us to focus on the facts rather than follow circumstantial leads on what led to the crash..so far the facts are the aircraft was basically new so talk of old age/maintenance is largely out..the weather was OK..so the likely facts point to the the mechanical efficiency of the type(Eurocopter AS 350b3) and/ or  pilot error.. the launch of the public inquiry is commendable..but can the public be assured that the (unedited) findings will be made public!! Also the operation of state aircraft i.e. the Military- Air force/Army and police airwing now need to be effectively regulated in terms of their safety of operations..as the police airwing has a low safety record..as it has had many incidences and accidents which have gone investigated.(.only that in this case the crash involved high profile passenger)..so the current civil aviation act cap 394 that exempts state aircraft from regulation of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority should be ammended so that a special arm be set up to ensure safety standard of state aircraft are maintained..

  • Maclizholding

    I wonder if we Kenyan read articles before commenting going by all below coments

    • Xhona

       Are so called articles necessarily proven right? That is our problem..believing in things quickly before proving them right!

  • anonymous

    when money allocated for repair and accusation of new state- of -the art equipments is diverted into people’s pocket the result is definate.. Our culture is turning out to be our own poison! prepare poison with an assumption to harm others unknowingly it ends up hurting our own self-made poison!

  • anonymous

    even the mlolongo victims are people like others..why mourn for the rich and disregard others!

  • mao

    why waste time and taxpayers money when we know that someone in govt wanted saitoti out of the way! mao-moughst@hotmail.com