Aviation Investigation A16P0045

Collision with terrain

The occurrence

On 16 March 2016, an Airbus Helicopter AS350 BA, operated by TRK Helicopters was operating on a heli-skiing flight from the Bear Creek Lodge, British Columbia, about 82 nautical miles northwest of Smithers, British Columbia. The flight was returning to base camp when the helicopter collided with terrain on a steep snow covered slope. The helicopter was substantially damaged, but the emergency locator transmitter was not triggered to send out an emergency signal.

What we know

  • There were six passengers and one pilot on board.
  • As the pilot maneuvered the helicopter at high speed close to terrain, control became difficult. The helicopter pitched up, rolled right, the rotor overspeed caution alarm sounded and the helicopter collided with steep terrain, skids first in deep snow.
  • The main rotor blades cut a swath through the snow on the left side, and continued to turn until the pilot shut down the engine and applied the rotor brake.
  • All occupants appeared uninjured and expedited egress to the left side (uphill) due to the steep, downhill slope on the right side.

Map of the area


Photo of Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy joined the Aviation Investigation Branch at the TSB Pacific regional office as a technical investigator in June 1999. During his career, Peter worked as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) on both fixed and rotary wing, and turbine engine aircraft. He advanced his knowledge of aircraft operations by completing a Private Pilot License (PPL) in 2009, and subsequently added ratings to this license.

Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.