A preliminary report cites damage to a stabiliser as the cause of the crash of a helicopter in Semenyih that claimed the lives of six people, including then Rompin MP Jamaluddin Jarjis, on April 4.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who revealed this today, said the left fenestron horizontal stabiliser apparently suffered damage when the helicopter landed at a school in Muadzam Shah, Pahang, while flying from Pekan to Subang, Selangor.
He said that an investigation and examination at the landing point showed that the left wheel had sunk into the soft earth at the football field of Sekolah Kebangsaan Ladang Kota Bahagia, Rompin.
The probe showed that the helicopter had tilted as much as 13 degrees after the wheel sank 20 inches into the earth during the landing at the field, he said.
"This type of helicopter has two stabilisers, one on the left and the other on the right, at its tail. The landing probably damaged the left fenestron horizontal stabiliser and the vertical fin.
"There were also traces of excess fluid leak where the left wheel had sunk into the earth and on the grass about 10 metres in front of the landing spot, resulting when the pilot lifted off to hover," he told a news conference on the preliminary report on the crash, at the ministry here.
Besides Dr Jamaluddin, who was a former minister and Malaysia's special envoy to the United States, the crash also took the lives of Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Azlin Alias; businessman Tan Huat Seang; Jamaluddin's bodyguard Corporal Razkan Seran, pilot Captain Clifford Fournier and Aidana Baizieva, an acquaintance of the pilot.
Najib's daughter's wedding
All of them were on their way home after attending the wedding reception in Pekan of the daughter of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Rosmah Mansor, Nooryana Najwa, and Daniyar Kessibayev.
Liow said the left stabiliser fin of the helicopter had yet to be found, and called on the people of Kampung Sungai Pening in Semenyih to contact the ministry immediately if they were to find it.
The stabiliser could provide the clue as to whether the damage resulted from impact upon landing or a mechanical fault, he said.
"This is to ascertain the cause of the stabiliser dislodging from the body of the helicopter. We need detailed simulation to identify the location and exact cause of the damage to the fin and know how the aircraft crashed," he said.
Liow said the report stated that the audio record showed that the pilot was concerned over the leak of the hydraulic fluid when the helicopter took off at 4.25 pm from the school field.
Didn't make any distress call
Bukit Ibam state assemblyman Datuk Wan Kadiri Wan Mahussin had alighted from the helicopter at the school field.
"We also know that between 4.31 pm and 4.52 pm, the pilot did not make any distress call. Nevertheless, another helicopter that had flown nearby radioed to say that the ill-fated helicopter suffered a sharp drop and crashed," he said.
Expressing sadness over the incident and the loss of two close colleagues, Jamaluddin and Azlin, Liow said the preliminary report did not attempt to find fault but was meant to reveal what actually happened.
The minister gave the assurance that the Air Accident Investigation Bureau would continue with the probe to determine the cause of the sharp drop and all relevant factors that resulted in the crash.
Liow said the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) would scrutinise recommendations contained in the report.
"These include a review on the procedure for single pilot helicopter operations to facilitate passenger embarkation or disembarkation with the engine and main rotor running," he said.
Among other recommendations are that the DCA ensure that private category operators observe flight operations limitations in their respective category, and determine the necessity for flight manifest for all private flights.
"So far, there is no requirement for private helicopters to inform air traffic control on the route and destination of landing points before the flight commences.
"It is better for pilots to keep in constant contact with the tower; is one of our recommendations to DCA," he said.
Liow agreed to a suggestion that the pilot might have breached his duty on safety procedure standards, failing to inspect the aircraft when something unusual happened.
Asked about the woman passenger, he said there was no indication that she was handling the helicopter at any time.
On the black box being analysed in France, Liow said this was the normal practice because Malaysia did not have the capability to extract information from black boxes.