Helicopter pilot killed in crash not experienced enough: safety board
DRAYTON VALLEY, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board says a helicopter pilot killed in a crash in central Alberta was not experienced enough to be flying in bad weather.
The Bell 206 Jet Ranger departed from Whitecourt on Oct. 5, 2011, when it went down in a hay field near the air strip at Drayton Valley, about 150 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
The pilot, the only person on board, worked for Rotorworks Inc., a small flight school out of Whitecourt that owned the chopper.
In its final report into the crash, the safety board said the unnamed pilot had logged 390 hours of flight time, but was required to have 500 hours to fly in reduced visibility.
There was low cloud cover that day and the pilot had used his cell phone during the flight to tell a friend that he was encountering poor weather.
The pilot “would not have been eligible to operate in these conditions,” the board said in its report released Tuesday.
It said the pilot had to descend through cloud in order to land and lost awareness of the aircraft’s height above the ground.
“The pilot did not arrest the rate of descent, resulting in a collision with terrain in which the impact forces were not survivable.”
The board said the pilot cancelled a trip two days earlier due to deteriorating weather. But there was no indication the day of the crash that he tried to turn back towards Whitecourt, where the weather was better.
The pilot also had a habit of flying without shoulder harnesses attached to a lap belt, and wasn’t wearing the harnesses or a helmet when he died.
The board said even if the pilot had been wearing the gear, it’s not likely he would have survived the sudden impact.