By MOSES NJAGIH and ALLY JAMAH
A captain who recommended the purchase of the ill-fated chopper that killed former Internal Security minister George Saitoti has defended his choice.
Captain Evans Sigilai told the Commission of Inquiry investigating the chopper crash that his decision was based on Eurocopter’s superiority in performance and technical ability over the Bell model, which were key considerations in police operations.
He said the Eurocopter had a superior shaft-horse power, crucial in running the choppers gearbox and necessary for speedy aircraft’s take-off. Sigilai said besides the shaft horse power, the Eurocopter had higher cruising speed of 150 noughts as opposed to 130 noughts for the Bell 407 and a higher endurance of three and a half hours to the latter’s three.
“These aspects were more crucial than even the cost implications, though again the Eurocopter was more than Sh42 million cheaper than the Bell,” said Captain Sigilai.
He also listed five Approved Maintenance Units for the Eurocopter, while saying the Bell model had only one; the Kenya Wildlife Service.
“This means it would have been easier to maintain and service the Eurocopter than the Bell,” he said on cross-examination by Evans Monari representing the Police Department.
Sigilai was taken to task over seemingly shallow and ad hoc manner in which he examined the late Captain Nancy Gituanja for certification to fly one of the Bell helicopter models.