Bowen Island helicopter crash: report released

Pilots of a helicopter flying over the coast of British Columbia suddenly lost control, then an engine quit before the plane began to spin and crashed into a rocky ridge, a report which comes to appear on the details of the 2021 accident.

The pilots, who were flying from the Sunshine Coast to Metro Vancouver on March 5 last year, crashed on Bowen Island due to “environmental conditions”, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

They were heading from Sechelt to Cypress Provincial Park in a Bell 212 helicopter when the plane “entered a windshear and suffered a sudden loss of control,” the TSB wrote in its report, released Thursday morning.

The crew was able to regain control at this point, but then one of its engines quit and the flight controls became “very hard to manipulate”, investigators said.

The pilots knew they had to land and chose Bowen Island as the site for their emergency landing.

They began to descend, and at that point the helicopter “started a rapid rotation to the right.” The pilots were unable to correct the rotation and after several turns the helicopter crashed to the ground.

It came to rest on a rocky ridge on the island, the TSB said.

Both pilots survived, but were seriously injured. The helicopter was “substantially damaged”.

Following the accident, Airspan Helicopters Ltd. temporarily ceased operations and conducted a security investigation. The company has taken several steps to prevent such events from happening in the future, the TSB said.

(Map from Transportation Safety Board)

At the same time, the TSB was instructed to figure out what had happened.

His investigation found that conditions that day in that area were “favorable to strong mechanical turbulence, lee waves and low level wind shear”.

These conditions were noted both on the planned flight path and near Bowen Island.

The pilots were aware of the forecast, but carried on anyway, hoping the weather would improve as expected.

They wanted to complete the flight and saw other planes flying at Sechelt, from where they took off, so they took off anyway.

According to the TSB, the helicopter entered an area of ​​”severe turbulence”, and as a result the pilots lost control. This resulted in “excessive main rotor blade flapping”, causing the blades to strike the tail rotor driveshaft.

(Chart from Transportation Safety Board)

“The helicopter’s extreme attitude during the initial loss of control likely caused the hydraulic system to malfunction, the number 2 engine to shut down in flight, and the number 1 engine to have reduced fuel flow (resulting in a decrease in power), which subsequently reduced the main engine. rotor speed,” the TSB wrote in a news release.

Then, when the helicopter slowed down for the emergency landing, control was again lost and the helicopter crashed.

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