Air Transportation Safety Investigation Report A19O0026
COLLISION WITH TERRAIN Robinson Helicopter Company R66 (helicopter), C-GAUA Timmins (Victor M. Power) Airport, Ontario, 18 nm WNW 04 March 2019
The helicopter was not certified to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR) and was not equipped with an autopilot. A portable GPS (global positioning system) device was mounted beside the instrument cluster and found at the accident site. There were no pre-impact mechanical failures or system malfunctions identified that would have contributed to this accident.
Accident site and aircraft wreckage information
… There was tree damage at the top of a coniferous tree located approximately 10 m (33 feet) westnorthwest of the impact site (Figure 2). The tree damage and the damage to the helicopter indicated that the aircraft was in a steep nose-down, left-bank attitude when it struck the ground, on an approximate heading of 120° magnetic. The helicopter then pitched over and came to rest on its back. The tail boom had snapped at approximately the midpoint, and there was minor damage to the tail rotor. The main rotor blades were mostly buried in the snow, but showed significant damage when uncovered. All portions of the main rotor blades were still attached to the mast, which was partially separated from the helicopter. The gearbox and the engine (Rolls Royce RR-300) had broken free of their mounts. There was a strong odour of jet fuel at the site. The flight instruments were examined to determine their readings at the time of impact; however, the only useful information obtained was from the airspeed indicator, which showed a reading of 107 knots at impact. The occupants were ejected from the helicopter during the impact. There is no evidence that either occupant had been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the occurrence; however, given the damage to the helicopter, the accident was not survivable.
Night visual flight rules
The occurrence flight took place at night over remote areas with almost no ambient or cultural sources of light from the ground. Illumination from the moon was negligible13 and the nearest major light source was the city of Timmins, which is 18 nm east-southeast of the accident site. The Robinson R66 Pilot’s Operating Handbook states the following regarding night VFR and what happens when outside visual reference is lost: [the pilot] loses […] his ability to control the attitude of the helicopter. As helicopters are not inherently stable and have very high roll rates, the aircraft will quickly go out of control, resulting in a high velocity crash which is usually fatal.
Air transportation safety investigation report A19O0026 - Transportation Safety Board of Canada