In its investigation report (A15Q0126) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that a loss of directional control led to the September 2015 fatal helicopter accident near Sept-Îles, Quebec.
Two passengers sustained fatal injuries, while the pilot and two other passengers suffered serious injuries.
On 2 September 2015, a Bell 2036B helicopter operated by Héli-Nord was flying from the airport in Sept-Îles, Quebec, with one pilot and four passengers on board. The purpose of the flight was to inspect a salmon pass on Nipissis River, approximately 20 nautical miles north of Sept-Îles.
During the final approach to the landing site at a river camp, a few feet from the ground, the helicopter began an uncommanded rotation to the right. After turning a few times, the helicopter crashed heavily into a rock on its front right side. A fire started in the engine tailpipe and was immediately extinguished by persons on site.
The investigation determined that the helicopter was operating at a weight and in a flight regime that led to a loss of directional control at an altitude that did not allow any recovery.
During the final approach, the pilot noticed that the engine torque had exceeded its limits and that the nose of the helicopter was starting to turn to the right. To counteract the uncommanded turn, the pilot reduced the engine torque while applying full left anti-torque pedal. However, the nose of the aircraft continued turning to the right and the helicopter kept losing altitude. The pilot increased the torque to reduce the rate of descent and tried to gain airspeed, but the right turn rate increased. Realizing that control of the aircraft was lost, the pilot cut the engine power and prepared for impact. The helicopter was in a nose-down position to the right before it collided with terrain.
The investigation determined that the pilot’s lack of experience on a Bell 206B helicopter with a shorter tail rotor than the one he had previously trained on prevented him from recognizing the loss of tail rotor effectiveness and counteracting it in a timely manner. The TSB also found that, if occupants do not wear safety belts correctly during a flight, there is an increased risk of serious injuries or death in the event of an accident.