The helicopter that crashed near Smithers in 2016. (Transportation Safety Board) The helicopter that crashed near Smithers in 2016. (Transportation Safety Board)

2016 Smithers helicopter crash caused by pilot-triggered hydraulic system error: TSB

No one was injured when the helicopter hit a snowy slope just minutes after takeoff

A 2016 helicopter crash northwest of Smithers was caused by the pilot triggering a known issue with the chopper’s hydraulic system, according to a Transportation Safety Board report released Wednesday.

The Airbus AS 350 FX2, operated by TRK Helicopters andd carrying a pilot and six passengers, had taken off from the base of a ski run about 82 miles northwest of Smithers.

This was the pilot’s final flight of the day: a trip from the Skeena River back to base camp, which the pilot had already flown that day.

But just one minute after takeoff, the pilot started to descend into a ravine, causing the speed of the helicopter to increase rapidly.

The pilot applied the aft cyclic control stick and tried to turn the helicopter to the left. However, the control stick did not move and the helicopter suddenly rolled to the right, pitched up and collided with a steep snow-covered slope.

The report noted that these types of helicopters can often abruptly pitch up and roll to the right when the aerodynamic forces on the helicopter’s rotors get to be too much for the hydraulic system to handle.

No one was hurt and all seven people managed to get out of the helicopter, which was heavily damaged.

The report found that the emergency locator transmitter did not activate.

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