Helicopter overturned by partial failure in fatal crash in 2021: BST

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According to a Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigation, a fatal helicopter crash in central Alberta last year was due to a part failure that caused the plane to break apart in flight.

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The Bell 212 was being used to support forest firefighting efforts near Evansburg, about 100 kilometers west of Edmonton.

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It fell on June 28, 2021 after one of its two main rotor blades separated from the rotor head assembly as the helicopter prepared to land to pick up a new crew, according to a TSB report about the accident.

This indicates that the main rotor blade hub strap retainer pin broke, allowing the helicopter’s second rotor blade to fly off the aircraft and causing the helicopter crash to the ground.

The 49-year-old man piloting the helicopter, its sole occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The blades were spaced more than 100 meters apart and much of the helicopter was destroyed by the fire that broke out after it crashed.

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TSB investigators later determined that the part, labeled « safety critical », was too weak steel for the helicopter’s design, at about 1/3 of the required tensile strength.

They worked with US authorities to track down the manufacturer of the spindle, the Fore Machine Company in Haltom City, Texas.

The report cites how the company’s quality control systems failed to identify substandard pins « for undetermined reasons. »

He also notes that the company considered hardness testing to be “repetitive, mundane work” that could be done with little training, an approach the TSB says contributed to the accident.

« The lack of training requirements for hardness testing in standard operating procedures likely contributed to the procedure being performed poorly. »

The helicopter’s manufacturer, Bell Textron Inc., issued a service alert to inspect substandard pins on other models.

The TSB does not assign fault or determine responsibility for the incidents it investigates.


Twitter @ByMatthewBlack


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