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Air transportation safety investigation A21Q0024

The TSB has completed this investigation. The report was published on 10 January 2023.

Table of contents

Collision between sling load and tail rotor

Héli-Express Inc.
Airbus AS350 B2 (helicopter), C-GHEX
Les Escoumins, Quebec, 1.5 NM NNE

View final report

The occurrence

On 11 May 2021, the Héli-Express Inc. Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter (registration C-GHEX, serial number 2867) was conducting flights to carry workers and equipment from a staging area to a work area at a 315 kV transmission line located northeast of Les Escoumins, Quebec.

Shortly after taking off from the staging area with a platform hanging from the cargo hook mounted on the belly of the helicopter, the pilot heard a loud noise. He released the external load, and almost immediately, the helicopter yawed strongly to the left. The pilot turned 180° to make an emergency landing on a dirt landing strip not far from the staging area. During the approach, the pilot experienced great difficulty controlling the aircraft’s yawing motion to the left. When he was no longer able to control the yaw, he shut down the engine and the aircraft landed hard in an upright position on rugged terrain. The aircraft remained in an upright position and was substantially damaged, but there was no post-impact fire.

The emergency locator transmitter activated, and the signal was detected by the Canadian Mission Control Centre in Trenton, Ontario. Although the pilot was severely injured, he was able to get out of the aircraft and call the site manager to report the accident. Another helicopter that was working at the same site flew to the accident site and dropped off a nurse. The injured pilot was transported to hospital in Chicoutimi, Quebec.

Media materials

News release


Risks associated with transporting a light load without a sling highlighted in 2021 helicopter accident near Les Escoumins, Quebec
Read the news release

Deployment notice


TSB deploys team of investigators to Les Escoumins, Quebec following a helicopter accident

Dorval, Quebec, 17 May 2021 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the site of an accident involving an Airbus Helicopters AS350 B2 in Les Escoumins, Quebec. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Simon St-Pierre

Simon St-Pierre joined the TSB team in 2019, and works as a regional senior investigator (Air) out of the Quebec regional office. Over the course of his career, Mr. St-Pierre has accumulated approximately 4500 hours of flight as pilot on different types of aircraft such as Beech C90A, Cessna 550, Jetstream 31 and multiple floatplanes. Since 2010, he has worked at Transport Canada as a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector and since 2014, he worked as a Technical Team Lead/Flight Operations.


Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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.