In its investigation report (A12P0008) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that the ingestion of soft ice into the engine led to a complete loss of power and the crash after takeoff of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) helicopter near Cultus Lake, British Columbia. The pilot was fatally injured.
On 17 January 2012, the RCMP helicopter, a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 involved in a training exercise, landed near Cultus Lake, B.C.; subsequently, a heavy snowfall began. The helicopter departed following the snowfall but soon after takeoff, a muffled bang, and the sounds of the engine and rotor diminishing rapidly were heard. The aircraft descended almost vertically, colliding with terrain in a nose-down, right-side down attitude.
The investigation found the protective engine covers had not been installed when the helicopter was parked during the heavy snowfall, and that the air intake system was not cleaned and dried prior to engine start. After the helicopter was started and running at low power, soft ice had built up inside the air intake; and during take-off at high power, the ice broke free and was ingested into the engine compressor which led to a complete engine power loss. This caused the rapid loss of the main rotor speed, an extremely high rate of descent, and the impact with terrain that was not survivable.
Since the accident, Eurocopter, the RCMP and Transport Canada (TC) have reminded pilots of the need to ensure the engine air intake system is clean prior to takeoff. However, the investigation concluded that the full range of recommended preventative measures cannot easily be accomplished in field operations and this presents a risk. Given this risk, TC has undertaken to review the engine inlet design of these helicopters.
In the meantime, there are over 500 Eurocopter AS 350 and EC 130 helicopters being operated by 132 operators in Canada. The investigation found these helicopters are susceptible to ice formation in cold weather operations, and the Board is concerned that in certain conditions, these helicopters may be at increased risk of engine flame-out shortly after takeoff.
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.
- Four new Airbus H125s for Norwegian operators in one week
- 12-Apr-20 N160CC Airbus H125 Tampa, US-Florida
- FAA approves Garmin GFC600H Helicopter Flight Control System in AS350
- Airbus adds more power and enhanced aerial work capabilities for the H125
- Air Zermatt picks VR technology H125 training solution
- StandardAero and Robertson Announce First Canadian Customer for AS350/EC130 Crash-Resistant Fuel Tank
- Ukraine Border Guards receive first two Airbus H125s
- 26-Dec-19 N985SA Airbus AS350B2 Kauai, US-Hawaii (7F)
- StandardAero and Thales Team on AS350 autopilot
- 09-Dec-19 ZK-HPB Airbus AS350B2 White Island, New Zealand
- AS350 heating and demisting system improvement
- All change at Soloy with STCs sold and now new owners too
- Airbus H125 helicopters enter Austrian Ministry of Interior service
- Canada approves AS350/EC130 Crash-Resistant Fuel Tank
- 23-Sep-19 VT-UTC Airbus H125 Kedarnath, India
- LA County Sheriff buys a AS350 crash-resistant fuel tank
- Oklahoma City Police buy two AS350 crash-resistant fuel tanks
- Oceania Aviation Prepare Right Hand H125/AS350 Cargo Pod
- Trump proposes import duties on Airbus helicopters built in EU
- 27-Mar-19 N818MC Airbus AS350B3 Conroe, US-Texas (1F)