Pilot inexperience a key factor in 2012 collision with terrain by sightseeing helicopter in mountains near Kananaskis, Alberta

EDMONTON, July 23, 2013 /CNW/ - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A12W0031) into the March 2012 accident in which a Bell 206B helicopter on a sightseeing flight experienced loss of control and collided with terrain in the vicinity of Loder Peak, near Kananaskis, Alberta. The pilot was killed, and the 4 passengers were injured.

At the time of the accident, the helicopter, operated by Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters Ltd., was being flown very close to mountainous terrain. TSB investigators found that the pilot had minimal training and experience in mountain flying, and it was unlikely that the pilot was able to recognize and mitigate the hazards associated with flying in this environment. Wind and weather conditions close to mountains can negatively affect the performance of an aircraft, such as its ability to climb, maintain altitude or maintain tail-rotor effectiveness.

The collision with terrain was the result of uncontrolled rotation caused either by the aerodynamic loss of tail-rotor effectiveness or by a tail-rotor strike with the rising terrain. Although the helicopter had a flight tracking system installed, the operator was not aware that the flight was overdue so search and rescue operations were delayed.

The accident helicopter was not fitted with, and was not required by regulation to be fitted with, a flight recorder and/or cockpit voice recorder. Lightweight flight recorders help operators and investigators identify and correct safety deficiencies, and reduce the risk of accidents. The TSB recently recommended (A13-03) that Transport Canada work with industry to remove obstacles to, and develop recommended practices for, the implementation of flight data monitoring and the installation of lightweight flight recording systems for commercial operators not required to carry these systems.

Since the accident, Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters has taken a number of measures to reduce operational risks. These measures include requiring pilots to wear helmets while flying, enhancing mountain flying training, and putting safeguards in place to ensure that all required training has been completed.

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

For further information:

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
819-994-8053

The TSB is online at www.tsb.gc.ca. Keep up to date through RSSTwitter @TSBCanada, YouTubeFlickr and our blog.


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