News release

Failure to check winds affecting landing area caused fatal 2012 helicopter crash in Carcross, Yukon

Edmonton, Alberta, 29 August 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A12W0088) into the loss of control and crash of a Robinson Helicopter R44 II in July 2012 in Carcross, Yukon.

On 10 July 2012, an R44 II operated by Horizon Helicopters Ltd. was to transport two Yukon Government surveyors to bear-bait sites in the Carcross area. The helicopter departed Carcross at 3 p.m. for the final leg of the day, and headed east. The flight followed the north shore of Tagish Lake and approached the wildlife survey site from the west. At approximately 3:13 p.m., the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received an emergency locator transmitter signal from the aircraft. The wreckage was found approximately 5 nautical miles east of Carcross on Nares Mountain. The pilot was fatally injured, one passenger was seriously injured, and another received minor injuries.

During the approach to land, the helicopter experienced a gust of wind from the west, which caused it to drift to the left towards the eastern slope of the mountain crest. The helicopter then began an uncontrolled vertical descent. The helicopter impacted the eastern side of the slope on the right-hand skid, then rebounded down the slope before coming to rest nearly inverted on its left-side roof.

The investigation revealed that a reconnaissance pass to determine wind conditions at the immediate landing area before attempting to land had not been carried out. As a result, the pilot was unaware of the intensity of the down‑flowing air near the intended landing area. Also, the pilot was not wearing his flight helmet, which contributed to the severity of his head injuries. If helicopter pilots do not wear helmets, they are at increased risk of incapacitation, serious injury or death in the event of an accident.

Since the accident, Horizon Helicopters Ltd. has implemented a safety policy that requires all pilots to wear flight helmets during flight operations.

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