An undetected manufacturing defect caused a helicopter to crash on Vancouver Island last year, claiming the life of its pilot.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released an investigation report on Nov. 16, 2023 into a fatal April 2022 helicopter crash that took place near Port McNeill Aerodrome.
The pilot, Brent Fedirchuk from Port Alberni, was fatally injured in the crash. He had been conducting slinging operations with Kestrel Helicopters in the Naka Creek area when the helicopter experienced an engine failure. He issued a distress call, but the helicopter collided with terrain.
The TSB investigation determined that shrinkage voids had developed near the inner circumference of the engine’s sixth stage compressor wheel during the manufacturing process and went undetected. The affected compressor wheel eventually failed when two separate fractures—one due to fatigue caused by shrinkage voids and the other due to overstress—occurred. This resulted in a catastrophic engine failure, and the subsequent crash.
The investigation also found that the engine failure occurred shortly after the helicopter had released a load of cedar blocks from a 55-metre (180-foot) longline.
“Therefore, the helicopter likely had insufficient height and forward speed to conduct a successful autorotation,” the TSB said. “As a result, the helicopter impacted the terrain with significant vertical speed, causing substantial damage to the helicopter.”
The TSB says the engine manufacturer has issued a Commercial Service Letter to its customers recommending that the compressor be converted to a new wheel design during the next overhaul.