Pilot in ‘copter crash ignored weather conditions

A recent civil aircraft investigation reveals the pilot who died on board a privately registered helicopter with Namibian registration number V5-HFW, belonging to Jannie Swart, last April failed to comply with the visual meteorological flight conditions.

The deceased pilot was Lambert Roux - a freelance pilot from Kamanjab in the Kunene Region.

The Ministry of Works and Transport's directorate of aircraft accident investigation revealed the pilot's ignorance caused the helicopter to impact with mountainous terrain during the flight at the time of the crash.

In a statement released on Monday by the Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, the V5-HFW helicopter at the time took off from Eros Airport at 05h50 to its destination with only the pilot on board.

After the helicopter did not reach to the destination the people on the farm called the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and reported the helicopter did not reach its destination.

Investigation showed the pilot did not acquire a weather report for his intended flight.

Equally, the report indicates the pilot took off at 05h38 local time while the airport was still officially closed (Eros Airport opens at 06h00 local time).

Further, it was discovered that the pilot flew a different route and did not comply with the radio instructions given by the ATC.

Therefore, the ATC management has been urged to put measures in place to ensure ATC comply with the operating hours of operation as lay down and published in the Notams (Notice to Airmen).

"Eros Airport ATC must not allow non IFR flights to depart if the weather is below minima's. The rising ground around Windhoek presents a serious danger to aircraft when low cloud ceiling phenomenon are present," the report cautioned.

It also urged pilots to adhere to the regulations as laid down to the documentation processes of their licenses and they should refrain from flying outside the scope of their license privileges or ratings as this will have dire consequences with insurance compliances.

Another revelation is that Roux flew into known instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) conditions without an Instrument flight rules (IFR) rating.

It found the helicopter was not certified for IFR flight nor equipped for that flight condition.

"The pilot only received instrument flying training during the time when he did his commercial license in 2007 which count to his night rating of 8.3 hours. No further experience of such nature was recorded in his logbook for night or IMC conditions," the report revealed.

It also shows the pilot did not switch on his transponder and squawk 2000 as is mandatory for the radar to track the flight which could have resulted in an early warning that an emergency was on hand when the helicopter disappeared from the radar system.

The report further indicated that Roux was the holder of a valid helicopter pilot license and had a game capture rating endorsed in his logbook.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia