Transport Canada has grounded four types of Bell helicopters after investigating a fatal crash in Alberta last month.
The crash happened approximately an hour west of Edmonton, with police telling Global News that the helicopter was helping fight a fire near Evansburg on June 28.
After investigating the crash, which involved a Bell 212 helicopter, Transport Canada issued an emergency airworthiness directive on Monday.
According to Transport Canada, a strap pin in the main rotor hub sheared off during flight, which resulted in the detachment of the main rotor blade and main rotor head.
“It has been reported that the failed main rotor hub strap pin had only accumulated 20 hours of service,” Transport Canada said in the directive.
“Inspection of another Canadian Bell 212 helicopter found a main rotor hub strap pin of the same part number, made by the same manufacturer, with the same serial number prefix, to be deformed after only approximately 29 hours in service.
“Failure of a main rotor hub strap pin will result in detachment of the main rotor blade and loss of control of the helicopter.”
Transport Canada said although the defective strap pins were only reported on Bell 212 helicopters, strap pins of the same part number can be installed on Bell 204B, 205A-1 and 205B helicopters.
Transport Canada also said while the cause of failure has not been determined, Bell has issued alert service bulletins as a precautionary measure.
“To address the risk of detachment of main rotor hub strap pins in flight, this (airworthiness directive) is issued as an interim measure to mandate replacement of affected strap pins,” said Transport Canada.
Global News has reached out to the BC Wildfire Service to see if any helicopters in its subcontracting fleet has been affected.
BC Wildfire said it has reached out to those companies and is awaiting responses.
Global News also reached out to B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), which said its dedicated fleet of six helicopters (two in Vancouver; Nanaimo, Kamloops; Prince George; Prince Rupert) does not include the impacted Bell models.
“BCEHS does not have any models of the Bell helicopters impacted by this Transport Canada airworthiness directive (AD) as part of our dedicated fleet of air ambulance helicopters,” BCEHS told Global News.
BCEHS said it does have one Bell aircraft, but it’s a different model.
It also noted that it has 35 air carriers around the province who provide services as needed, and that “some of our contracted air carriers will be impacted by the Transport Canada directive. They will be following procedural guidelines outlined by Transport Canada.”
On Wednesday, Transport Canada said it issued the emergency airworthiness directive after receiving preliminary investigation information from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) on the fatal air accident that occurred in Evansburg on June 28, 2021, involving a first responder and one Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd., Bell 212.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected. The airworthiness directive requires that affected Canadian operators inspect and replace specific parts, if they are present, on this specific helicopter before further flight,” said Transport Canada.
“There are 133 Canadian-registered Bell 212 helicopters; in addition, there are 49 Canadian-registered Bell 205A1 and B and 18 Canadian-registered Bell 204B helicopters that may be affected.”
Transport Canada said it was not aware of any impacts.
— With files from Phil Heidenreich