Friday, April 13, 2012

Heli-tour company back in the air

CANMORE - Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters resumed its helicopter touring operations in the Bow Valley last week following the death of one of its pilots in a March 30 crash.

The company suspended operations immediately following the death of pilot Matthew Goodine, of Prince George, B.C., who succumbed to his injuries several hours after a scheduled 20-minute flight crashed on a mountain near Exshaw.

The crash occurred with four passengers on board, but none of the four was seriously injured.

While company officials weren’t commenting publicly Monday, staff at the heli-tour business east of Canmore confirmed the company had resumed operations, and choppers could be seen during the Easter weekend coming and going from the company’s base at Stoney Nakoda Resort at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 40 about 30 kilometres east of Canmore.

Meanwhile, the crash is under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board and RCMP.

“The helicopter was recovered on Friday, April 6. The plan is for our investigators to travel (Tuesday, April 10) and begin the technical examination of the wreckage this afternoon,” said John Lee of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada on Tuesday. “This examination will take at least a day or two depending on what is found.”

The board’s latest release of air crash statistics reveal the number of helicopter crashes actually increased in 2011 in Canada, though not to a point where figures matched annual tallies from 2006 to 2010.

According to the TSB, fatal crashes involving helicopters jumped to eight in Canada in 2011, after falling to only three in 2010.

Those eight crashes represented about 23 per cent of all fatal aircraft crashes.

The country averaged seven fatal helicopter crashes per year from 2006 to 2010.

There were 36 reportable helicopter crashes in Canada last year, up from 31 in 2010, but down from the 2006-to-2010 average of 42.

The number of aircraft accidents per 100,000 hours of operation dropped in Canada again in 2011, from 5.8 to 5.7. That’s also down from the five-year average of 6.2 for 2006 to 2010, according to TSB figures.

Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters operates a fleet of 11 helicopters and annually hosts more than 12,000 passengers on heli-tours in Kananaskis country, said a news release from the company.

It employs 35 staff, and has been operating since 1994.

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