News release

Defective blade caused November 2011 crash of a Bell 206L helicopter in Kapuskasing, Ontario

Richmond Hill, Ontario, 10 December 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A11O0205) into the November 2011 collision with terrain of a Bell 206L helicopter in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

On 2 November 2011, a Bell 206L helicopter, operated by Sunrise Helicopters Inc., departed Kapuskasing, Ontario. The aircraft was chartered by a forestry company for a local timber survey flight. On board were the pilot and 2 passengers employed by the forestry company. At 10:48 Eastern Daylight Time, the helicopter experienced an in-flight separation of a main rotor blade and the helicopter crashed. All occupants were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed. There was no post-impact fire.

The investigation found that the main rotor blades were manufactured with defects. As several fatigue cracks developed, one of them progressed until the occurrence main rotor blade separated in flight. A similar accident occurred in August 2008. After that accident, Bell Helicopter implemented a damage tolerance approach for the main rotor blades. This approach did not provide adequate inspection criteria to prevent this accident. As a result, a fatigue crack progressed undetected until the blade failed.

In February 2012, Transport Canada mandated a life limit of 1400 hours air time for all affected main rotor blades, regardless of previous inspections performed. Consequently, all affected main rotor blades were to be removed from service prior to the accumulation of 1400 hours air time.

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