Still from video recording taken during occurrence flight, with annotations showing the helicopter's position at 10, five and three seconds before impact — cockpit perspective. Image courtesy of Transportation Safety Board of Canada
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada published the results of its investigation into what caused an Airbus Helicopters AS350 FX2 helicopter to collide with terrain near Smithers, British Columbia.
According to investigators, the helicopter was operated by TRK Helicopters Ltd. and departed from the the base of a ski run approximately 82 nm northwest of Smithers, British Columbia, on a day visual flight rules flight to the base camp (located approximately 7 nm south-southeast of the ski run), with the pilot and six passengers on board.
Shortly after taking off, operating at low altitude, the pilot initiated a descent into a ravine. On the descent, the helicopter’s airspeed increased rapidly and eventually started an abrupt roll to the right before pitching up and colliding with terrain on a snow-covered slope.
There were no injuries in the flight and all seven occupants egressed the helicopter, which was substantially damaged.
“Just prior to impact, the pilot increased the helicopter's collective control in an attempt to reduce the helicopter's rate of descent. The helicopter struck the snow-covered slope of the ravine at an elevation of about 3,100 feet above sea level, in a right-banked attitude, at approximately 25 KIAS,” the report said.
The helicopter's main rotor blades cut a swathe through the snowpack on the aircraft's left side and continued to turn until the pilot shut down the engine and applied the rotor brake, according to Transport Safety Board of Canada investigators.