Aviation news release 2012

Transportation Safety Board releases report into May 2011 Slave Lake helicopter accident and reiterates helicopter pilots at greater risk when helmets are not worn

Gatineau, Quebec, 15 March 2012 – Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its final investigation report (A11W0070) into the loss of control and collision with the water involving a helicopter operated by Campbell Helicopters Ltd. that occurred on Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, on 20 May 2011. The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter, died in the crash.

Mid–afternoon on the 20 of May 2011, the Campbell Helicopters Ltd. helicopter was conducting bucketing operations on a forest fire fighting mission. The investigation found that "the pilot likely overestimated the helicopter's altitude while on final approach due to glassy water conditions and a lack of visual references, which led to the water bucket inadvertently entering the water" before the helicopter was established in the hover. The aircraft climbed approximately 100 feet above the lake and then rolled rapidly to the right and crashed into the lake. It sustained major damage.

The pilot succumbed to head injuries as a result of the impact. The investigation also found that “the lack of regulations or policies requiring helicopter pilots to wear helmets places them at greater risk of incapacitation due to head injuries following a ditching or crash.” This risk to pilots is a finding in other TSB investigations, most notably from the TSB investigation into the Cougar Helicopters crash off the coast of Newfoundland in 2009.


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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca