AN OFFICIAL Aircraft Occurrence Summary was made public by the Canadian Forces Directorate of Flight Safety on September 8, providing more details surrounding the fatal crash of Canadian Forces/413 Squadron CH-149 Cormorant 149914 on July 13, 2006 (see Canadian Cormorant Tragedy, Attrition, September, p72). The summary concludes that «no pertinent technical deficiencies have been discovered to date and the investigation is focussing on environmental and human factors.» The report goes on to say that several human factors need to be further examined, including proficiency, crew resource management, situational awareness, crew pairing, use of night vision goggles and organisational issues such as currency and training. Additionally, the report notes, several aviation life support equipment and egress issues will be investigated. At the time of the accident the crew was undertaking a training mission to practice night boat hoists from the fishing vessel Four Sisters No 1, a member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. The helicopter departed Greenwood, Nova Scotia, at 2120hrs and completed an uneventful transit to the Port Hawkesbury Airport, where they stopped to conduct a required tail-rotor inspection. The weather was clear, visibility was good and the water was calm. The aircraft departed Port Hawkesbury just before midnight on July 12, 2006 to rendezvous with the Four Sisters No 1 at a position about 2nm (3.7km) north of Canso, Nova Scotia, on Chedabucto Bay. After locating the ship, the helicopter used the ‘Over Water Transition Down’ procedure and proceeded to the ‘rest’ position, which is 100ft (30m) above the water and a safe distance from the ship, just off the hoisting position from which the crew would start the boat hoisting procedure. At this point, the helicopter descended to 60ft (18m) and the aircraft commander directed the flying pilot to go-around, which he then initiated.
During the overshoot attempt, the helicopter entered a nose-low attitude and seconds later the aircraft impacted the water at approx 30-50kts (55-90km/h) in an 18° nose-down attitude with maximum torque being developed by the main rotor. Upon water impact, the front portion of the aircraft was destroyed while the cabin area aft of the forward part of the cargo door remained relatively intact. The helicopter immediately filled with water and rolled inverted. The crew of Four Sisters No 1 made a «Mayday» call at approximately 0030hrs on July 13, 2006.
The aircraft sustained «A» category damage. The three pilots and the SAR Tech team leader were injured but survived. Unfortunately, the two flight engineers and the SAR Tech team member were unable to egress the aircraft and did not survive.