Language selection

Air transportation safety investigation A22P0023

Updated in April 2023: This investigation is in the report phase.

Table of contents

Collision with terrain

Kestrel Helicopters Limited
McDonnell Douglas 369D (Hughes 500D) (C-GJLC)
Port McNeil, British Columbia, 25 NM ESE

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability. This report is not created for use in the context of legal, disciplinary or other proceedings. See Ownership and use of content.

The occurrence

At 0645 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on , the Kestrel Helicopters Limited McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter (registration C-GJLC, serial number 1129D) departed the operator’s base in Parksville, British Columbia (BC), on a visual flight rules flight to a staging site to prepare for heli-slinging operations in the Naka Creek region, approximately 25 nautical miles east-southeast of Port McNeill Aerodrome (CAT5), BC. The pilot was alone on board and was seated in the left seat.

The helicopter landed at the staging site at 0814 PDT and the pilot met with the 4-member ground crew for a safety briefing in preparation for the day’s work. The ground crew drove to the area where they would be harvesting wood blocks, and the pilot prepared the helicopter for the operation; the left door was removed and a 180-foot longline was attached to the helicopter.

At approximately 0900 PDT, the helicopter departed the staging site to conduct heli-slinging with bundles of cedar shake blocks. The pilot was wearing a 4-point safety harness and a helmet. The helicopter picked up and released 2 loads of blocks. After releasing the second load of blocks, the helicopter’s engine stopped producing power. The pilot broadcasted a distress call on the radio at 0909 PDT and, within a few seconds, the helicopter collided with terrain.

The ground crew drove to the accident site, arriving approximately 10 minutes after the accident. The helicopter was found at 50°27.07′N, 126°23.54′W, about 200 feet from the area where the cedar shake blocks had been placed. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

The 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter automatically activated and the signal information was relayed to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria, BC. A search and rescue helicopter was dispatched to the site and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded.

The TSB deployed a team of investigators, and the helicopter was recovered to the TSB regional facility in Richmond, BC, for examination.

Investigation status

To date, the TSB has examined and analyzed the accident site and wreckage; the pilot’s qualifications, training, and medical records; recorded data from the helicopter; meteorological data; and maintenance data. In addition, it has conducted interviews and gathered witness statements. The TSB will continue to liaise with the helicopter and engine manufacturers, the operator, and Transport Canada.

This accident investigation is ongoing. Information in this update is preliminary and may be supplemented or revised during the investigation.

Should a critical safety issue be identified during the investigation, the TSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

Media materials

Deployment notice


TSB is deploying a team of investigators following a collision with terrain of a helicopter near Sayward, BC

Richmond, British Columbia, 6 April 2022 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators following a collision with terrain of a helicopter near Sayward, BC. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Jessica Hamstra

Jessica Hamstra joined the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in 2019. Over the course of her aviation career, Ms. Hamstra has gained experience in numerous areas including flight training, medevac, charters, and scheduled airline operations. She has accumulated over 6000 hours of flight time on a variety of aircraft types, such as PA-28-140, C-180, King Air 100/200, Shorts 360, Dash 8, and Airbus A320.

Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.