Inappropriate control inputs led to January 2013 in-flight breakup of Robinson R44 helicopter over Fox Creek, Alberta
EDMONTON, July 4, 2014 /CNW/ – In its investigation report (A13W0009) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB)
determined that a Robinson R44 helicopter broke up in flight over Fox
Creek, Alberta on 27 January 2013 due to inappropriate control inputs
that caused the main rotor blade to make contact with the fuselage.
The Gemini Helicopters Robinson R44 was being used to monitor well sites
southwest of Fox Creek, Alberta for a local oil company. After flying
to several well sites, the helicopter made an unauthorized flight to a
roadside security gate, picked up a passenger, flew to a compressor
site and then to a remote cabin. Approximately 50 minutes later, the
helicopter departed the cabin and flew back to the security gate to
drop off the passenger. Shortly afterwards, the helicopter departed and
was observed to be flying erratically during departure. It broke up in
flight over a wooded area 5 minutes later, fatally injuring the pilot.
The investigation found that the pilot was flying under the influence of
alcohol and made control inputs that caused the main rotor blade to
strike the helicopter’s cabin, precipitating the in-flight breakup. In
addition, there was a delay of almost 2 hours between the accident and
when the aircraft was reported missing. Company flight-following
procedures were not adhered to, due in part to the company’s flight
follower not receiving adequate training. When the aircraft was
identified as missing, the flight following technology the company
employed was instrumental in finding the accident site because the
emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was broadcasting its signal on an
incorrect frequency due to an internal failure.
Following the occurrence, the ELT manufacturer produced an improved
mounting plate to reduce the chances of ELT damage in an accident.
Gemini Helicopters improved its flight-following procedures and
implemented a daily flight risk assessment tool used by the operations
and dispatch departments. A management team member also authorizes each
flight for every aircraft on a daily basis.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline,
railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the
advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the
Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
SOURCE Transportation Safety Board of Canada