In the release of its investigation report the Transportation Safety Board cites the loss of situational awareness and loss of control as the likely causes of a fatal helicopter crash at Gull Lake, Manitoba.
At 4 o’clock in the afternoon of July 1st, 2013 a Bell 206B helicopter operated by Custom Helicopters Limited left Gillam for nearby Gull Lake to pick up a work crew. At 8:30 pm the helicopter was reported missing, a search ensued and debris was found the following morning along the shore line of Gull Lake. The pilot died in the crash.
The Safety Board reports the examination of the small amount of wreckage that was recovered indicated that the helicopter had struck the water at high speed. The investigation concluded the pilot likely flew into an area of low visibility due to heavy smoke in the area or rain showers or both. This likely contributed to a loss of situational awareness and would have reduced the pilot’s ability to remain in control of the helicopter.
They add Custom Helicopters has since incorporated additional standards that pilots have to meet prior to being dispatched to work in wildfire operations.