ABU DHABI // The UAE’s aviation authority is investigating the controlled ditching of a helicopter near an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
The flight crew of the AgustaWestland 139 helicopter decided to ditch the aircraft into the waters near Mubarraz Island on April 29 after receiving a warning message and hearing a mechanical noise.
The General Aviation Authority said on Tuesday that the helicopter, operated by Abu Dhabi Aviation, was transporting oil industry workers. It left Abu Dhabi International Airport at 12.05pm with two flight crew and five passengers.
The aircraft landed on an oil rig at 12.31pm and four passengers disembarked. The crew departed for a second destination and received the warning message, after which the commander decided to descent to a lower altitude and divert to the nearest heliport, about seven minutes away.
The crew heard a mechanical noise during the descent and the commander decided to conduct the controlled ditching. The crew made a “mayday” call on the emergency radio frequency.
The two crewmembers and passenger on board were uninjured and boarded the aircraft’s emergency raft. They were rescued by the UAE Coastguard and a precautionary medical check was performed.
The helicopter was submerged but flotation devices kept it at the surface until it was recovered, the authority said. The aircraft and flight recorder were recovered and the data is being analysed by investigators.
“Any air accident requires rapid investigation,” said Saif Al Suwaidi, the authority’s director general. “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.”
Ismaeil Al Hosani, assistant director general for the authority’s air accident investigation sector, said the team will work closely with the manufacturer and relevant authorities.