Friday, July 04, 2014

Helicopter pilot was drunk before fatal crash: Robinson R44 Raven II, C-GOCM, Gemini Helicopters Inc.

FOX CREEK, Alta. – An investigation has determined a helicopter pilot was drunk when he died in a crash in northern Alberta last year.

A report by the Transportation Safety Board says the unnamed man had a blood alcohol level of about .35 — more than four times the legal limit for driving a vehicle.

The board says the pilot made flight control errors that caused the helicopter’s main rotor blade to contact the cabin and precipitate an in-flight breakup.

The chopper, owned by Gemini Helicopters of Grande Prairie, was monitoring well sites went it went down in a wooded area near Fox Creek on Jan. 27, 2013.

The board says the pilot also didn’t file a flight plan that day and made an unauthorized trip with a passenger.

He had dropped his only passenger at an oil site, before flying off erratically, then crashed five minutes later.

Original story:

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Aviation Investigation Report A13W0009 

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Loss of control and in-flight breakup
Gemini Helicopters Inc.
Robinson R44 Raven II (Helicopter), C-GOCM
Fox Creek, Alberta 21 nm SW
27 January 2013

The Gemini Helicopters Inc. Robinson R44 Raven II (registration C-GOCM, serial number 10472) was being used to conduct monitoring of well sites southwest of Fox Creek, Alberta. At 1311 Mountain Standard Time, the helicopter departed from its base of operations at the Horse Facility gas plant camp for the day's activities. After several flights, including one with a passenger, the helicopter landed at a roadside security gate, dropped off the passenger, and departed at 1735 with only the pilot on board. The helicopter broke up in flight over a wooded area 5 minutes later. The pilot was fatally injured. There was no post-crash fire. Although the emergency locator transmitter activated on impact, no signal was received due to impact damage to the emergency locator transmitter.

1.0 Factual information

History of the flight: 
The Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter (registration C-GOCM, serial number 10472) was being used to monitor well sites and other facilities southwest of Fox Creek, Alberta, for a local oil company. The helicopter was flown to several well sites until 1433,Footnote 1 then was flown back to the Horse Facility base, from where it departed 3 minutes later. One more stop was made at a well site, and then at 1450, the helicopter made an unauthorized Footnote 2 flight to a roadside security gate. After 3 approaches, the helicopter landed at 1510. At 1545, the pilot was observed to be staggering and smelling of alcohol. On being questioned, the pilot uttered some derogatory remarks. The pilot and an unauthorized passenger from the security gate then boarded the helicopter. The helicopter departed at 1554 to a compressor site, landing 8 minutes later. The helicopter was left running while work was done at the site by the pilot. It departed at 1611, and was flown low along the Berland River before landing and shutting down at a remote cabin at 1630. Forty-eight minutes later, at 1718, the helicopter lifted off and flew to the location of the security gate, where it made several low passes and turns. The aircraft landed at the gate at 1731, and the passenger disembarked 2 minutes later. The helicopter took off at 1735 and was observed to be flying erratically during departure. It broke up in flight over a wooded area 5 minutes later.

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