May 28, 2014 7:41 pm
Updated: May 28, 2014 10:17 pm

TSB: Helicopter crash near Cultus Lake caused by soft ice ingested by engine

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada say soft ice ingested by the engine led to a complete loss of power, causing an RCMP helicopter to crash near Cultus Lake over two years ago.

A pilot was killed in the crash that took place on Jan. 17, 2012.

The pilot, a civilian member of the RCMP, had just completed a training exercise and was preparing to return to base when the helicopter crashed.

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He was the only one on board, and had been with the RCMP for several years.

Investigators found that soon after takeoff, there was a muffled bang, and the sounds of the engine and rotor diminishing rapidly were heard.

The aircraft descended almost vertically, colliding with terrain in a nose-down, right-side down attitude.

The board says there was heavy snowfall on the day of the crash.

The investigation found the protective engine covers had not been installed when the helicopter was parked during the heavy snowfall, and that the air intake system was not cleaned and dried prior to engine start.

After the helicopter was started and running at low power, soft ice had built up inside the air intake.

During take-off at high power, the ice broke free and was ingested into the engine compressor which led to a complete engine power loss.

The resulting impact was not survivable, according the board.

Since the accident, the RCMP and Transport Canada (TC) have reminded pilots of the need to ensure the engine air intake system is clean prior to takeoff.

Transport Canada has also undertaken to review the engine inlet design of these helicopters.

The investigation found the helicopters are susceptible to ice formation in cold weather operations, and the board is concerned that in certain conditions, these helicopters may be at increased risk of engine flame-out shortly after takeoff.

With files from the Canadian Press

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