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30 November 2016 News release

Degraded situational awareness led to July 2015 fatal helicopter accident near Rigolet, Newfoundland and Labrador

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 30 November 2016 – In its investigation report (A15A0045) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a degraded level of situational awareness contributed to the fatal helicopter accident near Rigolet, Newfoundland and Labrador, in July 2015. One passenger sustained fatal injuries, the pilot sustained serious injuries, and the other passenger sustained minor injuries.

On 30 July 2015, an Airbus Helicopters AS 350 BA, operated by Canadian Helicopters Limited (CHL), was flying to a remote microwave tower site approximately five nautical miles west-southwest of Rigolet, Newfoundland and Labrador, with a pilot and two passengers on board. The pilot had flown with these passengers often and they had been working together at other tower sites on the previous three days. After the passengers carried out the site maintenance as planned, the pilot began preparing for the return flight. At about 1609 Atlantic Daylight Time, the helicopter lifted off from the helipad and, while flying forward, struck one of the tower's outer guy wires with the main rotor. The helicopter struck the ground and settled on its upper right side. The helicopter was destroyed.

The investigation determined that the pilot did not note the outer guy wires and did not include them in the departure plan. The pilot's lower level of attention while conducting a routine flight led to an ineffective visual scan resulting in degraded situational awareness.

Following this occurrence, the helipad at Moliak was moved outside of the circumference of the outer guy wire anchor points. Bell Aliant also collaborated with CHL to conduct reviews of all Labrador tower sites to identify hazards. CHL has also adopted the policy of conducting an overhead inspection flight prior to landing at any Bell Aliant site.

See the investigation page for more information.