Aviation Safety Vortex 1/1999

System Safety

Accident Synopses

The following are initial reports and may be altered as investigations continue.

04 June 1998
100 Mile House, B.C. — 12 mi. N


The pilot heard a loud bang from rear of the helicopter, followed immediately by an uncontrollable spin to the right. The load was released, the collective lowered, and the throttle reduced to ground idle in an attempt to stop the spinning and to prepare for an immediate landing. During the flare to reduce forward speed, the tail boom and rotor were damaged and the skids were spread. The 500 was heavily damaged but remained upright. The injured pilot was taken to hospital in another helicopter. The helicopter was logging and was in a 150-ft. hover when the occurrence took place.

09 June 1998
Big Bay, Labrador


The helicopter was en route at 1300 ft. with a sling load on an 85-ft. line when the engine failed. The pilot released the load and autorotated to a nearby bog. There were no injuries, and the AStar was not damaged. The helicopter was being used to transport equipment from a radio site to Hopedale, Labrador. Investigation discovered that a tee fitting used to connect a fuel line to the ignition solenoid valve had been pulled out of the valve. The body of the solenoid valve is aluminum and the tee fitting is steel. The parts catalogue called for a steel tee fitting. A service difficulty report (SDR) was submitted to Transport Canada.

10 June 1998
Villeneuve, Alta.


The training pilot flared for landing during a jammed pedal demonstration and the tail struck the runway, damaging the tail rotor blades. There were no injuries and damage was restricted to the tail rotor drive system.

17 June 1998
Vancouver, B.C.

CADORS 98P0414

A high-frequency vibration started as the helicopter decelerated for landing at Vancouver International Airport. The approach was continued and the vibration decreased. After landing, inspection found a broken tail rotor pitch link.

19 June 1998
Williams Lake, B.C. — 35 mi. NE


A severe vibration was followed immediately by control difficulties. The crew carried out a successful precautionary landing without further problems. Inspection revealed a problem with the recently replaced swashplate (3.5 hrs since installation).

27 June 1998
Rose Lake, Yukon
Bell 206B — C-FMBT


The right skid hung up on a small stump as the pilot manoeuvered to find a stable spot to land on sloping ground. In his attempt to free the skid, the pilot pulled up on the collective and the 206 rolled, coming to rest on its right side. The pilot and rear-seat passenger escaped injury, but the front-seat passenger suffered facial injuries. The helicopter was heavily damaged.

The pilot was wearing a helmet and had his shoulder harness secure, while the front-seat passenger was not wearing a helmet and his available shoulder harness was not secured. The pilot was manoeuvering close to a pile of fire hoses at the fire staging area when the accident occurred. He stated that fatigue may have been a contributing factor.

01 July 1998
Dease Lake, B.C.
Bell 206B — C-GPGM


The pilot landed on the floating log pad and, with the engine at ground idle, got out to remove the left rear door. At the same time, his two passengers exited on the left side and were removing equipment when the pilot arrived to remove the door. As the pilot was returning to the right side he saw, to his horror, the nose rising and the tail rotor hitting the water. He attempted to get the nose down by standing on the front of the skid, but when this failed to work he reached inside and shut down the engine. The tail rotor drive was damaged. No injuries were reported.

03 July 1998
Greenfield, N.S.
Schweizer 269C — C-FULL


The helicopter departed a clearing and had been climbing through 10 ft. at about 20 mph when it started to settle back toward the ground. The pilot set up for a landing in the only available area, a nearby bog. On touchdown, the 269 pitched forward and the main rotor struck the ground. The pilot exited uninjured, but the helicopter was heavily damaged.

06 July 1998
Dawson, Yukon
Bell 206B — C-FDRZ

CADORS 98C0524

The engine chip light came on, followed a very short time later by the engine seizing. The helicopter was on final approach to Dawson airport. The pilot made a successful emergency landing, without further problems, near the threshold of Runway 02. Inspection revealed a loose oil line. The engine had dumped all its oil, the chip light came on, and the engine failed. The flight was to reposition the helicopter from the company helipad to the forestry base on the other side of the airport. The helicopter had just undergone routine maintenance.

08 July 1998
Sundre, Alta.


Seconds after taking off, the pilot received an unreadable radio message from his base camp. He decided to land to try a different frequency and, as he was touching down, the main rotor struck nearby trees. There were no injuries, but the helicopter was heavily damaged.

13 July 1998
Creston, B.C.
Bell 206B — C-FLES


The 206 had been contracted to dry out a cherry orchard and was flying at about 25 ft. above ground at low air speed when it struck a power line and crashed. The pilot and passenger both suffered minor injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged. Prior to the accident, the pilot had flown a reconnaissance trip with the orchard owner on board to check for hazards. He identified other wires, but had failed to notice the wires he later ran into. The wires and support towers were painted green.

15 July 1998
Beauval, Sask.
Bell 204B — C-GREL


A collective restriction was encountered during a water bucket operation and, before the pilot could react, the 204 was on its side in eight feet of water with the cockpit totally submerged. The pilot escaped without much difficulty - more on the water egress in a later issue. Impact with the water was violent enough to slam the pilot's head into the side of the helicopter (probably the door frame). The impact was sufficient to crack the pilot's helmet and cause him minor injury - but he remained conscious and was able to escape without assistance. The pilot reported the following, "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for my helmet, I really do believe the helmet saved my life. It's got a huge gouge out of it; it's cracked. It's the light-weight kevlar type and it's got a huge crack in it. I believe, without the helmet, I would have drowned, guaranteed".

16 July 1998
Whitecourt, Alta. — 29 mi. N
R22 — C-FIAR


The R22 was on a routine pipeline patrol when the pilot received a message to locate an injured black bear (hit by a car). The pilot located the bear and then picked up a wildlife officer to dispose of the injured animal. While positioning the helicopter in a very small clearing, so the wildlife officer could get a clear shot, the pilot allowed the helicopter to drift into nearby trees. The helicopter was badly damaged, neither on board was injured and the disposition of the bear is unknown.

18 July 1998
Carvoeira, Macao
Bell 205A-1 — C-GFHC

CADORS 98P0560

During the final stage of approach to a small irrigation dam, the helicopter nosed over and crashed. The main rotor struck an embankment and the helicopter rolled right, coming to rest on its right side. The pilot suffered minor injuries, and damage to the machine was extensive. The pilot noticed the master caution light as he flared for landing, but didn't have time to determine the cause of the caution. Winds were light and the temperature was 38°C.

The Portuguese Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the accident.

18 July 1998
Grande Prairie, Alta. — 70 mi. S
Bell 206B — C-GPGA


On short final for landing, the helicopter started to spin to the right. Pedal input failed to stop the spin and the helicopter crashed into a stand of trees. The pilot and passenger escaped without injury, but the helicopter was heavily damaged.

The pilot, with a paramedic onboard, was landing at a tree-planting area to pick up a tree planter who was having a serious allergic reaction to a bee sting. The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was activated, alerting the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario.

18 July 1998
Fort Liard, B.C.
Bell 212 — C-GGAT

CADORS 98P0528

The helicopter was in a high hover with a 120 ft. long-line when the pilot saw an electrical arc jump between the long-line hook and the drill he was about to pick up. One of the engines failed, the main rotor rpm began to decay and the helicopter descend. All the electrical systems dropped off line. He tried to release the long line manually since the electrical release did not work, but there was no weight on the line, and it did not release from the belly hook. The pilot moved forward toward an area near the well-head and set up for a single engine landing. The trailing long line became entangled and the sudden tension caused control problems, damaging the fuselage around the hook and severing a fuel line.

The helicopter hit the ground hard but remained upright. The pilot received minor injuries. There was a great deal of thunderstorm activity with high temperatures and humidity in the area. Other electrical arcing had been noticed between the ground and the hook.

23 July 1998
Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Hughes 500D — C-GIFZ


The clearing was not quite large enough for the pilot to get all of both skids firmly on the ground and away from the water. The pilot managed to get all of the left skid and only the toe of the right skid on fairly firm ground. He then directed the passenger to exit the aircraft. There was a 20-kt. wind coming from the left rear quarter, and the pilot held in left cyclic to counter the wind and to keep the helicopter level. As the passenger stepped on the front of the right skid, the helicopter rolled right. The pilot was unable to stop the roll and the 206 came to rest on its right side in 3 ft. of water. The passenger had climbed back into the helicopter when the roll started and was slightly injured in the accident. The pilot was not injured, and the helicopter was badly damaged.

03 Aug. 1998
Mission, B.C.
Enstrom F-28 — ???


Witnesses watched a stuntman for a video production fall from the F-28 as it flew by at about 100 ft. The man had been suspended outside the helicopter, holding onto the right skid, but fell during a sharp turn. The man was taken to hospital but died two hours later. The helicopter registration had been taped over the ownership and the pilot involved were eventually discovered by police authorities with the aid of a video recording of the accident. The investigation continues and criminal charges are pending.

05 Aug. 1998
Cunningham Lake, B.C.
R44 — C-GKDL


The helicopter left Fort St. James at 12:30 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) and was last heard from at about 14:30 PDT. The R44 left Fort St. James, British Columbia, with the pilot and one passenger on board. The pilot flew to Tomas Lake where he picked up a second passenger and then flew to the west end of Cunningham Lake. The pilot was then to proceed to Fort Fraser to pick up a third passenger before returning to Fort St. James. At about 14:15 PDT, in the vicinity of Cunningham Lake, the pilot contacted the waiting passenger at Fort Fraser to advise that, although he was still planning to pick him up, there might be a delay in their arrival because there was some bad weather in the area. The pilot was not heard from again.

Concern grew when the R44 did not return to Fort St. James and, at 18:30 PDT, another helicopter was asked to search along the route that the missing helicopter would likely have flown. The track crawl failed to locate the missing helicopter. At 21:30 PDT, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria, B.C., was finally advised that the R44 was many hours overdue.

The missing Robinson was found the following morning in a small clearing at the west end of Cunningham Lake. All three on board were killed in the crash and the helicopter was destroyed.

Do not delay contacting search and rescue when an aircraft is overdue. Delaying the start of a full search could add an unnecessary night in the forest for possible survivors and could jeopardize their chances for survival - Ed.

06 Aug. 1998
Mica Creek, B.C.
Hughes 500D — C-GDSI


As the pilot raised the collective to lift the bambi bucket (with water) on the end of a 100-ft. long line, he noticed a power loss and a decrease in rotor speed (RRPM). When he lowered the collective, the RRPM returned. He repeated the procedure a number of times - each time he raised collective he lost RRPM and, according to the pilot, "engine power". The pilot stated that he eventually experienced "violent engine surges". During the ensuing landing, the long line, which he had not released, snagged a tree. The helicopter nosed over, crashed into the river and was washed downstream before grounding in shallow water. The helicopter was badly damaged, but the pilot escaped injury. The helicopter was transported to a facility for detailed examination and no anomalies that could have caused an engine problem were discovered.

08 Aug. 1998
La Loche, Sask. — 22 mi. SE
Bell 206B — C-GLQI


The 206 was in cruise flight when, without input from the pilot, the engine rolled back to idle. A successful autorotation resulted in no damage or injury. Inspection of the engine revealed a loose PC line connection. The helicopter had just come out of maintenance.

13 Aug. 1998
Windsor Airport, Ont. — 3 mi. E
Bell 47G-2 — C-FODS


Parts of the main rotor were seen to fly off as the 47 started its second spray run. The helicopter then nosedover, crashed and immediately caught fire. Observers at the spray site rescued the pilot who was then transported to hospital with serious injuries. Initial information points to the failure of a blade grip.

28 Aug. 1998
La Loche, Sask.
Bell 204B — C-GEAI


As the pilot manoeuvered in a confined area, the tail rotor struck trees, causing damage to rotor and gear box. There were no injuries.

28 Aug. 1998
Blue River, B.C.


The helicopter was in a hover with a 150 ft. long-line and load when it began to shake and vibrate violently, making control extremely difficult. The pilot released the load and landed in a nearby clear area. A witness reported that a branch from a tree higher up the slope had fallen into the helicopter's main rotor. The Hiller was badly damaged, but there were no injuries.

31 Aug. 1998
Slave Lake, Alta.


The pilot lost control 20 ft. above ground on approach for landing at a fire camp and crashed. The tail boom broke off and the 350 came to rest on its right side. The pilot and his four passengers were transported to Slave Lake hospital (one passenger was seriously injured).

08 Sept. 1998
Mica Creek, B.C. — 5 mi. W
Bell 212 — C-FMPZ


The pilot was lowering a sling load of fuel barrels on a 50 ft. long-line when the tail rotor struck nearby trees. He placed the barrels on the ground and headed back to Mica Creek, unaware of any damage to the tail rotor - although he did notice a vibration. Substantial damage to the tail rotor blades was discovered on shutdown.

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