Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bell 206B JetRanger II, Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters Ltd, C-GLQI: Accident occurred March 30, 2012, Loder Peak, Alberta - Canada

Kananaskis helicopter crash blamed on pilot inexperience: Transportation Safety Board releases report 

Matthew Goodine
 (Facebook )

Transportation Safety Board investigator Jon Lee has the details from a report that suggests pilot inexperience was a big factor in last year's helicopter crash in Kananaskis:   LISTEN  --The Eyeopener's David Gray chats with Jon Lee about flying   

A Bell 206B helicopter operated by Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters crashed during a sightseeing tour on March 30, 2012. The pilot died, but the passengers from the United Kingdom survived.

The father of a pilot who was killed last year in a helicopter crash near Kananaskis agrees with a federal report’s findings that his son’s inexperience and lack of training in mountain flying were contributing factors in the incident.

But the reason 28-year-old Matthew Goodine had travelled from his hometown of Prince George, B.C., to Kananaskis was to gain that much-needed experience, said the man’s father.

“(His instructor) there said you should have a minimum of X number of hours in the mountains because the most dangerous place to fly is in the mountains. That was his mission, to get this,” Michael Goodine said Wednesday in a phone interview.

Goodine died on March 30, 2012, after the Bell 206B helicopter he was piloting crashed on a mountain side. The four passengers from the United Kingdom aboard the sightseeing tour were injured.

Goodine was qualified and certified as a pilot but had no previous mountain-flying training or experience, according to a report released by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada on Tuesday.

“There was a high likelihood had he had better mountain training and more flying experience in the mountains, he would have been able to better recognize some of the hazards,” said Jon Lee, western regional manager with the board, though he added such training is not a regulatory requirement for flying in the mountains.

The report also showed Goodine had opted to fly through a route with steeper and more rugged terrain rather than the usual “gentler” route next to the mountains.

At the time, weather conditions were good, the helicopter was certified and properly equipped, and the pilot had had a “normal sleep-wake pattern” the days before, the report said.

The tour, operated by Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters for Kananaskis Heli Tours, was supposed to be a 20-minute flight with a stop at Brokenleg Lake for an hour of snowshoeing.

However, 13 minutes after departure, the helicopter ran into turbulence at Loder Peak, made a left turn and lost control. The aircraft spun six to 12 times, hit the mountain slope three times, and landed on a snowpack in an avalanche corridor.

Investigators believe either a loss of airspeed or a rotor clipping the side of the mountain caused the aircraft to lose control.

The passengers managed to get out, and pulled the pilot out onto the snow. He had not been wearing a helmet and was drifting “in and out of consciousness due to serious head and neck injuries,” the report said.

As temperatures dipped below zero, the passengers staked snowshoes upright in the snow to build a wind shield around Goodine, who was lightly dressed and not wearing a winter jacket. They covered him with blankets and a tuque. The passengers, who were wearing light winter clothing, then dug a pit in the snow to keep warm.

Help did not come immediately as the chopper’s emergency locator transmitter was not activated upon impact, and there was a delay in receiving the signal due to where the aircraft and satellite were positioned.

The helicopter was equipped with satellite tracking, but no one at the base was monitoring the screen and the chopper’s path at the time.

And while pilots who fly to Brokenleg Lake are expected to notify the base about their stop, sometimes the transmissions don’t work, so no red flags were raised when a transmission on this particular flight was not received.

The passengers were also unable to get cell reception to call for help.

A search and rescue helicopter from Canmore was eventually dispatched more than an hour after the crash, but severe weather prevented it from landing. It wasn’t able to safely reach the crash site until several hours later, at which point everyone was rescued via heli-sling.

Goodine died en route to hospital. An autopsy concluded the cause of death to be a combination of head and neck trauma, with hypothermia as a contributing factor.

The report said a helmet likely would have “reduced or prevented the injuries sustained by the pilot.”

The document added if the aircraft had been equipped with some sort of flight recorder, it would have been able to capture what had happened in the moments leading up to the crash.

“Companies can look at reams of data, and make changes before an accident or a serious incident happens,” Lee said.

Following the crash, Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters adopted some safety measures including requiring all of their pilots to wear helmets, inquiring into pilots’ accident history before hiring, and updating the pilot-training syllabus to emphasize mountain-flight training, the report said.

A man who was reached at a number listed for Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters declined to comment on the report, adding the company ceased operations a few months ago, giving no reason.

Corporate registration documents show Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters is still listed as being active.

Goodine’s father didn’t want to get into the details of the report but insisted he blames no one for the crash. He said his son died “a hero.”

“I believe the reason four of them walked away was because he put them first like a good captain of a ship would do. The way he turned, manoeuvred his chopper into the mountain first on his side, he took the brunt of everything,” Michael said.

“My son would not have been able to carry on if four people died and he walked away. That’s just the type of person he was.”