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Medevac helicopter had thorough check-up before flying

March 9, 2012  By Kamloops Daily News

March 9, 2012, Kamloops, B.C. - A helicopter being used to fly medevac patients to Royal Inland Hospital was thoroughly refurbished after being in an accident in the U.S.

Brad Emsland of CC Helicopters, the company that won the contract to do the medevac service, said Wednesday it’s common practice in the air industry to overhaul damaged helicopters and fly them again.

The history of the Bell 412 in question is known, said Paul Bouchard, superintendent of aviation for the B.C. Ambulance Service.

He said the chopper was being flown on a medevac mission in the U.S. when an engine light came on. The pilot did a precautionary landing and it was decided to transport the helicopter on a flatbed truck to be checked over.

While the top rotors were removed, the truck driver miscalculated and drove through an underpass. The top of the chopper hit the bridge and there was some structural damage, Bouchard said.


But the repairs that CC Helicopters undertook after buying the Bell 412 were stringent, he said.

“I would get in that aircraft tomorrow with my family with no hesitation,” he said.

Alpine Aerotech in Kelowna dealt with the helicopter. They are a platinum-rated authorized Bell repair shop with a global reputation, he said.

Bell even maps out the repair plans for its aircraft and signs off after the work is done, he said. Anything damaged is removed and scrapped, to be replaced by new parts.

“Transport Canada is involved, Bell Helicopters has oversight and tell them what to do. Alpine Aerotech have their own name and reputation in the industry.”

The engines were similarly dealt with by Vector Aerospace in Richmond, and Rilpa Enterprises in Calgary did the drive train, Bouchard said.

“For us, it was a non-issue.”

The other three dedicated medevac helicopters that the ambulance service employs are Sikorskis that had been used previously as corporate aircraft.

Emsland said the Bell 412 has flown 700 missions for a total of 600 hours since the refurbishing.

His maintenance employee, Rob Estey, said overhauling and reflying aircraft is common.

“At the beginning of the 21st century, there were 26,500 helicopters operating civilly in the world. Of those, more than 70 per cent have been repaired due to a damage incident that are currently flying.”


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