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News release

Engine failure at low altitude led to fatal October 2015 helicopter crash near Paynton, Saskatchewan

Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2 February 2017 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined a loss of engine power while hovering at low altitude led to the 2015 fatal helicopter accident near Paynton, Saskatchewan. The details are contained in the investigation report (A15C0146).

On 22 October 2015, a Hughes 369D helicopter, operated by Oceanview Helicopters Ltd., was conducting aerial work installing marker balls onto SaskPower hydro lines with a pilot and an external platform worker on board. During the marker ball installation, the single-engine helicopter was hovering at 325 feet above ground level when it experienced an engine failure. The helicopter began to descend and collided with terrain. Both the pilot and the platform worker sustained fatal injuries, and the helicopter was destroyed in a post-impact fire.

The investigation determined that it is likely that the failure of an internal engine component resulted in the loss of engine power. This occurred while the helicopter was in a hover, and there was insufficient altitude to conduct an autorotation landing (a manoeuvre to land without engine power), which led to the helicopter impacting the terrain.

It was also found that the risk of injury or death increases if a single-engine helicopter is operated at altitudes and airspeeds from which a successful autorotation landing may be difficult to perform.The combination of these altitudes and airspeeds are depicted in rotorcraft flight manuals. In this accident, the engine failure occurred when the helicopter was operating in this area of flight profile.

Following the occurrence, Oceanview Helicopters Ltd. voluntarily suspended external platform worker operations; SaskPower began implementing a helicopter safety program, including enhanced employee training and the recruitment of an aviation operations specialist; and the company contracted to build the hydro towers also reviewed its helicopter operation standards with the view of enhancing safety.

See the investigation page for more information.

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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376