SAR Seat Slip Smash (RCAF CH149 Leonardo Cormorant LOC-I)
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is investigating a Loss of Control – Inflight (LOC-I) accident that occurred to Search and Rescue (SAR) Leonardo CH149 Cormorant (AW101) CH149903 at Gander, NL on 10 March 2022.
The SAR helicopter, callsign Outcast 903, of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing was completing an onshore rear crew focused training flight, the first of two planned for the day at c15:42 Local Time. There were six crew members on board: two pilots, two Flight Engineers and two Search and Rescue Technicians.
At the end of the first training mission, the crew conducted hover work in the vicinity of the intersection of Runway 31 and Runway 21.
During the final clockwise hover turn sequence, the pilot flying’s seat unexpectedly descended to its lowest position.
The aircraft flight vector immediately reversed from a clockwise rotation to an accelerated counter clockwise left yaw about the aircraft mast. As the aircraft continued to yaw left, the attitude of the aircraft became unstable resulting in an increasing right bank attitude. The aircraft rotated through approximately 400° and as the right rolling moment intensified, the right outboard wheel, the horizontal stabilizer assembly located on the right side of the tail section, and main rotor blades impacted the runway.
Two of the crew received serious injuries, three minor injuries and one egressed uninjured.
The aircraft was significantly damaged on impact with the ground (although AW101s, aka Merlins, have been successfully rebuilt after major accidents [in one case an accident in Afghanistan, followed by being dropped by a US helicopter during the recovery and being dragged into a compound by armoured vehicle!]).
The RCAF report their safety investigation is focusing on “materiel and human factors“. We will update this article as they release more information.
This accident is a good reminder to pay attention to the maintenance, adjustment and operation of pilot’s seats.
The European Safety Promotion Network Rotorcraft (ESPN-R) has a helicopter safety discussion group on LinkedIn. You may also find these Aerossurance articles of interest:
- RCAF Chinook LOC Under Investigation
- SAR AW101 Roll-Over: Entry Into Service Involved “Persistently Elevated and Confusing Operational Risk”
- Why a Collective Control Came Loose in a Pilot’s Hand…
- RCAF Investigate Defect on Newly Delivered CH-148 Cyclone (S-92)
- High G Drama at Cold Lake
- Crew Bag FOD Shatters Hawk Canopy
- Perception and Fatigue: RCAF CH124 Sea King Engine Failure
- C-130 Fireball Due to Modification Error
- Misassembled Anti-Torque Pedals Cause EC135 Accident
- Air Ambulance Leaps into Air: Misrigged Flying Controls
- RCAF Production Pressures Compromised Culture
- NH90 Caribbean Loss of Control – Inflight, Water Impact and Survivability Issues
- Swedish NH90 CFIT: Pilot Experience and Skating on Frozen Lake
- Canadian Coast Guard Helicopter Accident: CFIT, Survivability and More
- Culture and CFIT in Côte d’Ivoire
- Investigation into F-22A Take Off Accident Highlights a Cultural Issue
- ‘Procedural Drift’: Lynx CFIT in Afghanistan
- NVIS Autorotation Training Hard Landing: Changed Albedo
- SAR Hoist Cable Snag and Facture, Followed By Release of an Unserviceable Aircraft
- USMC CH-53E Readiness Crisis and Mid Air Collision Catastrophe
- French Cougar Crashed After Entering VRS When Coming into Hover