Police in Nairobi are holding an aircraft service engineer based at Wilson Airport after he allegedly conducted unauthorized service to a helicopter that crashed after dropping ODM leader Raila Odinga at Kudho Primary School in Gem, Siaya County.
According to detectives privy to the ongoing investigations, the aeronautic engineer Captain Alex Koech, was not on duty on that particular day, and his name was missing on a duty roster seen by the Standard.
The helicopter, Bell 407 registration 5Y-PSM went down and overturned on the left side immediately after taking off. The chopper was about five metres from the ground when it went down damaging the main and tail rotors.
Pictures taken at the scene show the chopper came to rest on its right side and “all major structural components” were in the immediate area of the main wreckage.
The 42-year-old ex-military officer was trained in aeronautic engineering at the prestigious Utah State University, in the US, and has expertise in aircraft aintainance, diagnostics, flight safety, ground safety, and air accident investigations.
According to sources at Wilson Airport, Koech has a decade-long experience, and is one of the most trusted chopper engineers in the country. Before resigning from the military, he was in charge of the safety department at Moi airbase and closely inspected military choppers.
During the 2017 presidential campaigns, Koech was a permanent figure in Deputy President William Ruto’s air technical team, accompanying the DP to virtually every corner of the country to service his numerous choppers.
Raila’s chopper scare comes barely one year to the next general election, where ODM leader is expected to square out with the Deputy President in what appears to be a two horse race. On 10th June 2012, an aviation accident occurred involving a Kenya Police helicopter. The Eurocopter AS350 crashed on a hill, killing all six people on board. Among the fatalities were Kenya’s Interior Security Minister George Saitoti and his Assistant Minister Joshua Orwa Ojode.
Though an inquest into Saitoti Ojonde crash was never conclusive, Kenya’s politicians are dogged by similar accidents, with investigations leading to either pilot error or bad weather.