Inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions led to fatal June 2012 loss of control and crash of a helicopter in Terrace, British Columbia

RICHMOND, BC, Dec. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A12P0079) into a fatal collision with terrain involving a Eurocopter AS350 operated by Bailey Helicopters Ltd. on 1 June 2012 in Terrace, British Columbia.

The helicopter was on a local mountain training flight in daylight conditions under visual flight rules with three crew members on board. Approximately 45 minutes into the flight, the helicopter struck the snow-covered side of a mountain ravine. It was destroyed on impact, and there were no survivors.

The weather at the time was cloudy and rainy, with most of the mountain peaks obscured by clouds and low visibility. The company held a Transport Canada authorization for flight in reduced-visibility conditions of half statute mile (sm) rather than the standard limitation of one sm. Investigators determined that the helicopter inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), which caused the pilots to lose visual reference to the ground and become disoriented and lose control. Neither pilot held an instrument rating nor received any recent instrument flight training, and the helicopter was not equipped for flight in instrument meteorological conditions. Research suggests that pilots without instrument flight training who lose sight of the ground will lose control of their aircraft within three minutes.

Following the accident, Bailey Helicopters suspended its authorization for reduced-visibility flights. It enhanced training for its pilots, including controlled flight into terrain avoidance and inadvertent meteorological condition training, implemented tools to enhance pilot decision making and implemented a flight data monitoring program.

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

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