Finds ELT Was Not Turned On, Delaying Location Of The Wreckage

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released its investigation report (A19O0026) into the collision with terrain of a Robinson R66 helicopter near Timmins, Ontario, in March 2019. 

The TSB conducted a limited-scope, fact-gathering investigation into this occurrence to advance transportation safety through greater awareness of potential safety issues.

In this occurrence, the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was not turned on. This report points out the importance of having a properly armed and functioning ELT. This will help reduce possible delays in the deployment of search and rescue resources, thereby increasing occupants’ chance of survival.

According to the report, On March 04, 2019, the privately registered Robinson Helicopter Company R66 helicopter (registration C-GAUA, serial number 0142) departed Sudbury Airport (CYSB), Ontario, at 1842 on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight to a private helipad near Fauquier-Strickland, Ontario, with the pilot and 1 passenger on board. The helicopter collided with terrain at 2006, 36 nautical miles (nm) south-southeast of its destination.

On the day of the occurrence, the pilot had flown approximately 8 hours (air time) before the collision with terrain. The occurrence flight was the 4th flight of the day.

Because evening civil twilight had ended at 1844, most of the occurrence flight was conducted under night VFR.

Although the aircraft was equipped with a transponder, it was not recorded on radar after leaving the Sudbury area.

On the morning of March 06, 2019, the police were notified of the overdue aircraft. A large-scale aerial search was initiated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton. Ground search efforts were organized by family and friends of the missing pilot and passenger.

In the afternoon of March 11, 2019, the wreckage was spotted from the air, approximately 18 nm west-northwest of Timmins (Victor M. Power) Airport (CYTS), Ontario, in a previously logged area of forest with deep snow coverage. Both occupants had been fatally injured. The helicopter was destroyed. There was no post-impact fire, and the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) did not activate.

The pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

As a result of the accident, the TSB recommended that the Department of Transport amend the regulations to clearly define the visual references (including lighting considerations and/or alternate means) required to reduce the risks associated with night visual flight rules flight.

The TSB concludes in the report that in the event of an accident, an armed and functioning ELT is a key factor in alerting search and rescue services.

(Image provided with Canada TSB report)

FMI: Report