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Helicopter Awareness Training

"Well presented course, enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructor with a mix of good practical wisdom and stories"

Scott Stewart, Metro Vancouver Watershed Management Division

"I've never taken a course before that employed so many different practical exercises. I learn so much better in this environment and I really absorbed the course material."

Nancy Joyce, National Research Council of Canada

Why Helicopter Awareness Training?
Well, if you have a perfect pilot...

then you don't need the course but if there is a possibility that the pilot could be safer or more efficient then...

Helicopter Companies - help the pilot fly better, show the customer you care.

Helicopter Customers - save money, be safer.

Helicopter Passengers - be empowered.

Pilot Stories....

Why did I create the course and continue to deliver it? Because I believe the VFR helicopter industry can be safer and more efficient by engaging the regular helicopter passenger. This is truly the way of the future and you can be part of it.

Contact:Tony Walker

Three quarters of helicopter accidents in Canada are related to human causes.

Helicopter Awareness Training helps passengers understand what they can do to help prevent these avoidable occurrences. Listed below are the 38 CADORS* reported helicopter accidents - March 2010 to March 2011.

In all of these cases, what would you have done?

What could you have done?

Learn with Helicopter Awareness Training


Word Cloud of the accident causes listed below - Font size = prevalence of word. Hmmmm.

Unknown Causes - 3 = 8%

3 accidents with unknown causes (5 fatalities)

Probable Mechanical Causes - 9 = 24%

4. lost power,

5. lost power

6. lost power

7. lost power.

8. engine sputtered

9. engine problem.

10. problem with the tail rotor

11. main rotor separated

12. flipped upside down

Probable Human Factor Causes - 26 = 68%

13. struck tower

14. white-out

15. white-out

16. white-out

17. lost visual reference

l8. lost visual reference

19. unanticipated yaw

20. tail rotor authority was lost

21. turned down wind

22. (on final to land) crashed

23. high rate of descent

24. bear paw snagged

25. skid became entangled

26. broke through the pad.

27. broke through the ice

28. tail rotor struck a snow bank.

29. tail rotor struck a large rock.

30. tail rotor struck branches.

31. struck a greenhouse

32. contact with a tree.

33. main rotor blades contacted a 2 inch diameter sapling

34. blades made contact with the lightening shield wire

35. stuck a wire.

36. contacted an overhead wire

37. fueled by mistake

38. downwash

Unknown Causes

1. C-GBTE, an R-44 operated by Entreprise Helibenny, was involved an accident on Lac Dorval, located 85 NM northwest of Gatineau (CYND). At approximately 2400Z, the pilot informed the Montréal (CYUL) area control centre (ACC) controller that the two people on board the aircraft did not require assistance. The aircraft seems to be a total loss.

2. C-GIYR, an Astar 350 operated by Héli-Excel, was on a VFR flight to Poste Montagnais with its pilot and three passengers on board. The aircraft crashed 21 NM northeast of Sept-Îles (CYZV). The four aircraft occupants were killed during the crash. Two Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigators were sent to the scene.

3. TSB reported that the float-equipped Bell 206L, registered as C GVYM operated by Universal Helicopters took off from Clyde River around 2009z on a VFR flight to Pond Inlet. The weather observation 2000z was: AUTO 05004KT METAR CYCY 162 000 3 ½ SM OVC002 OVC039 OVC048 OVC076 07/07 A2. The helicopter was equipped with a flight following SkyTrac and was reported missing. The last known point was 70 ° 57N 070 ° 05W. Several important pieces, including a portion of the cabin were recovered by a Coast Guard vessel. The search continues. 

Possible Maintenance Causes

4. The Transwest Helicopters Bell 214B-1 helicopter, C-GTWV, was engaged in fire fighting operations 20 nm northwest of Lillooet, BC. C-GTWV had filled its bucket and was en route to the fire when the engine (Lycoming T5508D) lost power, the low rotor RPM horn sounded and the engine out light illuminated. The N2 and rotor RPM indications were observed to be decreasing rapidly. The pilot turned the helicopter and entered an autorotation but the rotor RPM decayed and the helicopter descended into trees and rolled over onto its left side. The two pilots evacuated the helicopter. A fire was started by the hot engine exhaust but was extinguished with fire extinguishers and buckets of water from other helicopters. The pilot-in-command suffered minor injuries. The copilot was uninjured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The 406 ELT did not activate. 

5. The Bell 206B (C-FMAD) registered to Lakehead Helicopters Inc., had departed Chase with a pilot and two passengers on a sight seeing trip up Seymour Arm Valley and then south east to Bishoff Lake. In the vicinity of Bishoff Lake, elevation 6500 feet ASL, the engine was reported to have lost power and the helicopter was unable to maintain altitude. It is reported the aircraft settled into trees. There were no injuries reported to the pilot or the two passengers.

6. The Bell 407 helicopter, operated by Vancouver Island Helicopters for Mike Wigley Heliskiing, was on short final to drop off heliskiers 8 nm SE of Blue River, BC when the engine lost power. The helicopter landed hard and the main rotor blades struck the vertical fins on the horizontal stabilizer. The pilot and ski guide (seated in the front left) sustained back injuries but the five passengers were uninjured.

7. The Forest Helicopters Eurocopter/Aerospatiale AS-350 helicopter (C-FORS, S/N 4001), was slinging barrels of fuel on a 100-foot long line to a drill site 10NM northeast of Pickle Lake. While en-route at approximately 300 feet AGL, the engine (Turbomecca Arielle 1D1) lost power. The pilot released the sling load and attempted an autorotative landing at an abandoned mine site. The helicopter struck the ground in a level attitude and one of the main rotor blades severed the helicopter's tail boom. There were no injuries, however, the helicopter sustained substantial damage.

8. The Western Aerial Applications Hiller UH12E (C-GJQQ) was flying low and slow when the engine sputtered and then quit. The pilot executed an autorotation, and while sliding on the ground the helicopter struck a small object on the ground and overturned.

9. C-GIFV, a Bell 206B operated by Essor Hélicoptères, was on a VFR reconnaissance flight to survey the damages caused by the recent large tidal waters. The aircraft took off from the Rimouski (CYXK) airport at 1441Z and flew over a part of the Gaspé Peninsula. The pilot allegedly attempted an emergency landing on a beach at Cap-Chat due to an engine problem. Three of the five occupants were injured and brought to hospital.

10. A privately owned Robinson R22 was on a VFR flight in the St-Rémi area. It was flying at an altitude of 50 feet to make a visual inspection of farm fields (because of frost). The aircraft had a problem with the tail rotor and crashed. There were no injuries. The aircraft sustained heavy damage.

11. Bell Helicopter 222U, registered N515MK, operated by Careflite, was in a cruise flight at approximately 600 FT AGL when the tail boom and the main rotor separated from the helicopter. The fuselage impacted the terrain and there was an immediate post-impact fire. Both occupants were fatally injured

12. The CHC Global Operations Eurocopter France AS 332L1, Boundary Bay to Boundary Bay flipped upside down at the Heli 1 apron at Boundary bay airport. 911 and emergency response crews were contacted by the tower. The accident occurred during run-up procedures. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The pilot did not suffer significant injuries. 

Possible Human Factor Causes

13. The Bell 206B, registration C-GCHB, operated by Essential Helicopters, departed North Bay destined for Kapuskasing. In the vicinity of Elk Lake, the aircraft struck a tower and subsequently impacted the ground. The aircraft was destroyed and the two occupants were fatally injured, there was no post impact fire.

14. The Skyline Helicopters Bell 212 helicopter (C-GSLZ) reportedly encountered white-out conditions while engaged in heliskiing operations and attempting to land in mountainous terrain to drop off skiers. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The ten passengers were not injured.

15. An Alpine Helicopters Bell B206 L1 (C-FALC) suffered a blade strike while conducting heli-ski operations after encountering white-out conditions at Bobby Burns Lodge, approximately 20 miles south of Golden, BC.

16. A Trans North Helicopters, Aerospatiale AS 350 B-2, C-GTNT, was on a VFR survey flight from Dawson City, YT. At approximately 56 NM south of Dawson City, GTNT encountered severe in-flight icing. A precautionary landing was attempted at an abandoned airstrip at Scroggie Creek. During the landing the pilot experienced white-out conditions resulting in a hard landing. The aircraft rolled onto its side after touchdown. The pilot and 5 passengers were unhurt and company aircraft were able to recover them within 2 hours. 

17. During landing at a refueling site, the Mustang Helicopters Bell 205A 1 (C-GFRE), pilot lost visual reference in blowing snow and the main rotor blades struck a refueling tank. The helicopter was substantially damaged, but the pilot was not injured. No fire started from the collision.

18. The Great Slave Helicopters AS350 B2, C-FYKD, was engaged in survey operations near Pellet Lake, NWT. The flight was operating at an altitude of approximately 150 feet AGL and following a survey line, which was near the snow-covered surface of Pellet Lake. The flight encountered whiteout conditions and the pilot lost visual reference with lake surface. Shortly afterward the helicopter contacted the lake surface and rolled over. The pilot and 2 passengers were able to exit the helicopter without injuries, however a post crash fire ensued, which destroyed most of the fuselage and all survival gear onboard. The 406 ELT activated on impact passing the aircraft's position.

19. A Trinity Helicopters Bell 206LR, C-FVIX, was on a re-positioning flight from Yellowknife, NT to Whitehorse, YT. After departure from Watson Lake, NT, the aircraft was crossing a ridge at approximately 5,000 feet asl when a decision was made to land on top of a mountain. After determining the wind direction, the pilot approached the landing area into the wind. On short final the helicopter entered an unanticipated yaw to the right. The aircraft landed hard and rolled onto its left side. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. 

20. The Valhalla Helicopters Bell 206B, C-GITZ, was harvesting pine cones and was descending to unload. At about 100 feet above ground, as the pilot was checking his descent and turning into wind, tail rotor authority was lost and the helicopter began to rotate. The main rotor contacted trees and the helicopter crashed on its left side. The pilot was the sole occupant and sustained minor injuries. He was transported to Peace River by ground ambulance. Winds were reported to have been from the NW at about 5 to 10 knots.

21. The Black Hawk Helicopters Inc. Robinson R44 II, registered as C-FMHG, had turned down wind in low level flight at Vauxhall, AB when the aircraft began to settle. The pilot tried some escape manoeuvres but they failed and the helicopter settled, resulting in a hard landing. There were no injuries to the pilot or 2 passengers. The landing gear was damaged and is being inspected by company AME's and a Transport Canada Inspector.

22. C-GHVD, an Aerospatiale AS-350 operated by Canadian Helicopters, was on a VFR flight to Chapais/Chibougamau (CYMT). The helicopter (on final to land) crashed 6 NM northwest of Chibougamau. The four occupants were injured, one was severely injured. Canadian Helicopters sent another helicopter to the accident site.

23. The Trans North Helicopters Astar AS 350-B2, C-GTNV, was transporting a 5 man line crew to a job about 50 miles south of Dawson City, YT. Just prior to touchdown in a mountain saddle, a high rate of descent developed, resulting in a hard landing. There were no injuries to the pilot and passengers, but the helicopter had a collapsed RH skid, and damage to the tail rotor and tail boom. 

24. A Highland Helicopters Bell 206B (C-GMDQ) was working on the East side of Stave Lake positioning forest management personnel. While attempting to take-off with just the pilot on board, a bear paw snagged under a rock. The aircraft rolled onto its right hand side and sustained substantial damage. The pilot was taken to hospital with minor injuries. 

25. The Custom Helicopters Ltd. Bell 206L-1, registration C-GCHI, was departing a portable landing pad at a remote drilling site after refuelling near Flin Flon, MB. The right skid became entangled in one of the pad's slinging cables as the helicopter lifted off. The helicopter rolled over and was substantially damaged. The solo pilot was not injured. 

26. The Sikorsky S-76A helicopter, being operated by Helijet International, was landing on a floating helipad at Hippa Lodge after a flight from Sandspit, BC. The helicopter taxied on a wooden area of the pad and the left main gear broke through the pad. The helicopter remained upright. It was shut down and the passengers exited normally. There were no injuries but the helicopter was substantially damaged. 

27. The Wisk-Air Bell 407 aircraft was being repositioned for refuelling on Mackenzie Lake near the town of Armstrong. On touchdown on the lake next to the fuel pump, the skids of the helicopter broke through the ice and the helicopter rolled over. There were no injuries.

28. C-GSRQ, an Astar 350 operated by Héli/Express, was on a flight from the Hydro-Québec in Chibougamau to the Hydro-Québec base in Chicoutimi. During the landing, the tail rotor struck a snow bank. The aircraft sustained damages to the tail rotor and the tail boom. The pilot, who was alone on board, was uninjured.

29. The Mustang Helicopters McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter, registration C-GIYZ, was landing at a remote well lease site to pick up a seismic crew. The sky conditions were clear, the visibility was good, and the winds were light to calm. The lease site was approximately the size of a football field; however, most of the surface within the cleared area was very rough and only the outer edges of the site, adjacent to the perimeter trees, were suitable for landing. On short final to the usual touchdown area the pilot elected to change the touchdown point. As the helicopter was being manoeuvered towards the new touchdown point the tail rotor struck a large rock. The tail rotor drive shaft sheared and the tail rotor sustained substantial damage; however, the helicopter remained upright on landing. The pilot, who was the only occupant, was not injured. 

30. The Bi-Air Application Services Hiller UH-12E, registration C-FTHT, was conducting tree cone harvesting near Hythe, AB when on an approach the tail rotor struck branches. An attempt was made to pull up, however this led to an overtorque condition and the helicopter fell to the ground in forested terrain. The pilot was the lone occupant and was not injured. 

30. The Eurocopter AS 350 B2 helicopter, C-GBGT, operated by Slave Lake Helicopters was one of two helicopters conducting heliskiing operations for a ski lodge about 160 nm NW of Smithers, BC. A group of skiers had been dropped off and the helicopter was proceeding down, on the other side of the mountain ridge (due to localized and variable weather conditions) to the pick-up point. While en route, the helicopter encountered marginal VMC and attempted to descend through a break in the cloud. The helicopter contacted snow covered terrain and began rolling down the slope. The pilot, the only person on board, released his seat belt and was ejected as the helicopter continued to roll. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter received substantial damage. The on-board ELT (406) activated and was turned off by the pilot. There was no fire. The ski lodge utilized a GPS tracking system to monitor the heli-ski operations and was aware of an incident immediately. Rescue was accomplished within 40 minutes.

31. The Hunter Helicopters Hughes 369HS (500C) helicopter (C-FJJO) was conducting spraying operations 1.6 nm north of Aldergrove when the helicopter struck a greenhouse. The skids were torn off the helicopter and the engine was overstressed during the pilot's recovery attempt. The pilot was able to retain control of the helicopter and remained airborne while his ground crew fashioned an improvised landing platform of wood. The pilot then landed the helicopter without further event. The pilot was not injured but the helicopter was substantially damaged. 

32. The Ultra Helicopters Ltd. AS 350BA helicopter, C-FXMJ, landed in a clearing about 10 NM northeast of Wabasca, AB to pick up a fire crew. After liftoff and acceleration through 30 knots, a main rotor vibration was detected, and the aircraft was landed in a clearing about 800 meters away. The main rotor blades had sustained damage in the trim tab area, likely from contact with a tree. The helicopter was grounded on-site, and due to fading daylight, the pilot and four passengers were extracted the next day. 

33. The Kananaskis Mountain Helicopters Ltd. Aerospatiale AS350 BA, C-GIYO, was dropping off two surveyors in the Namur Lake area. The landing site was in a confined area. The initial touchdown was successful; however, the pilot repositioned the helicopter a short distance to facilitate an easier exit for the surveyors. During this manoeuvring the main rotor blades contacted a 2 inch diameter sapling which resulted in major damage to all three blades. 

34. C-GOHY, an Aerospatiale AS350 B2 helicopter, was performing a line patrol near Pickering when the main rotor blades made contact with the lightening shield wire on a hydro electric transmission tower line resulting in damage to all 3 main rotor blades. The helicopter landed safely and the rotor blades and associated components were removed and sent for inspection. 

35. Pitt Meadows RCMP report a Medivac flight operated by Helijet International Sikorsky S76A (C-GHJT) was departing from a Farm on McNeil Road at 16:10 PDT with four people on board for Vancouver General Hospital when it stuck a wire. The helicopter landed safely in a field, no injuries reported. Damage to the helicopter is reported as the tip caps on the main rotor. 

36. Sunrise Helicopters, Bell 206B, C-GNBS was engaged in Pro-line fungicide application, when the main rotor mast of the helicopter contacted an overhead wire and control was lost. The aircraft impacted the ground in a nose-low attitude on the left side. The pilot received minor hand injuries and exited the aircraft. There was no post-crash fire. There was a release of chemical during the crash. No mechanical problems were evident prior to contact with the wire.

37. The Robinson R44II, had a stopover at the airport in Forestville (CYFE) for refueling. During the stopover fueled by mistake with Jet B fuel  - Avgas 100LL was required. During the initial climb, the helicopter lost engine power and the pilot made a forced landing (crashed) at the intersection of Smith and Desbiens in a residential area of Forestville. The two people aboard suffered minor injuries and were transported to hospital. The aircraft did not catch fire and was heavily damaged.

38. A Hélicoptères Canadiens Astar 350 B2 helicopter registered C-GBCZ, was parked on compacted snow at La Grande Rivière (CYGL). A Canadian Forces Griffon helicopter (Bell 412, CH146), registered 146472, was on approach near the Astar, when the downwash caused by the main rotor made the Astar turn 180 degrees. The lower part of the vertical stabilizer was damaged when it struck a piece of equipment on the ground.

In all of these cases,

what would you have done?

What could you have done?

Learn with Helicopter Awareness Training.