Aviation Safety Advisory A17O0264-D1-A1

Unsecured Cargo and Unrestrained Passengers in Helicopters

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Place du Centre
4th Floor
200 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1K8

21 December 2017 A17O0264-D1-A1

Letter addressed to
Transport Canada,
Helicopter Association of Canada,
Air Transport Association of Canada, and
Northern Air Transport Association

RE:
Aviation Safety Advisory A17O0264-D1-A1
Unsecured Cargo and Unrestrained Passengers in Helicopters

The purpose of this advisory is to alert your organizations to the risks associated with unsecured cargo and unrestrained passengers in helicopters, and to advocate for prompt action.

On 14 December 2017, a Hydro One Networks Inc. Aerospatiale AS350 B2 (registration C-GOHS, serial number 3240) was transporting linemen who were conducting maintenance work on high-power transmission lines in the vicinity of Tweed, Ontario. Shortly before the accident, the pilot picked up three linemen at the base of a tower and was transporting them to a nearby staging area. The three passengers sat in the aft seating area. A few bags used for carrying tools and supplies were carried externally on a platform that extends out of the right side of the fuselage. These bags, when carried externally, are normally secured with double-lock carabiners.

While nearing the staging area, one of the bags that was being carried externally blew off the platform and, along with its attached carabiner, struck the tail rotor. Shortly thereafter, while the pilot was attempting to land, the helicopter departed from controlled flight. All 3 passengers became separated from the helicopter while it was still airborne. The helicopter crashed into a wooded area, and the pilot and all three passengers were fatally injured. Examination of the aft seat belts following the accident found that two of the three seat belts were unfastened.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has initiated an investigation (A17O0264) into the accident.

Due to the seriousness of this accident, the TSB would like to bring to the immediate attention of all helicopter operators the following two safety messages:

Cargo must be adequately secured at all times, to prevent it from shifting or departing the helicopter during flight.

Passengers who do not wear seat belts risk serious injury or death in the event of an emergency.

The TSB encourages you to communicate these safety messages widely to helicopter operators to raise awareness and encourage vigilance in order to reduce the likelihood that an accident, such as the one described above, reoccurs. The TSB would appreciate being advised of any action taken.

Sincerely,

Original signed by

Natacha Van Themsche
Director of Investigations – Air
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Telephone: 819-994-3813
Email: natacha.vanthemsche@bst-tsb.gc.ca

cc. Hydro One Networks Inc.

Background information

Occurrence No.: A17O0264

This Safety Communication No.: A17O0264-D1-A1

Contact:

Peter Rowntree
Investigator-in-Charge
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Telephone: 905-771-7707
Email: peter.rowntree@tsb-bst.gc.ca