Snow caused deadly RCMP helicopter crash near Cultus Lake: TSB
Authorities say an RCMP helicopter, the same as the one seen here in Alberta, crashed due to snow being sucked into its engine. (QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)
A Transportation Safety Board report into the crash of a fatal RCMP helicopter crash in January 2012 essentially blames snow for the accident near Cultus Lake, British Columbia, about 100 kilometres east of Vancouver.
According to the report, soft ice was sucked into the engine causing a muffled bang and the loss of power resulting in a crash of the Eurocopter AS 350 B3 that killed the pilot.
Soft ice, said Mark Clitsome of the TSB, is essentially slush created by snow building up on the helicopter.
Clitsome said the pilot was conducting training maneuvers and had landed for a break when it began to snow. The snow accumulated while the helicopter was grounded and not cleared off enough before being sucked into the engine intake.
“At low power settings you have low pressure so it sucks in the water and the ice and snow starts to form,” said Clitsome. “Just as he adds full power it sucks it all into the engine and flames it out.”
The TSB said the Eurocopter and another model are susceptible to such ice formations.
Clitsome said there are covers that can be placed over the intakes, and the TSB and manufacturer have sent warning to pilots about the danger.