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Ornge S-76 stranded after landing mishap

December 31, 2013  By The Toronto Star

Dec. 31, 2013, Ottawa - An ORNGE helicopter is stuck on the ground after its rotor blades struck trees during a landing to pick up a patient at a remote site in Northern Ontario.

None of the four crew
on board were injured in the incident just over a week ago but the
Sikorsky S-76 helicopter has been stranded at the scene ever since.

According to a
preliminary report obtained by the Star, the helicopter had been
dispatched to a private residence just west of Thunder Bay on Dec. 22.

“The helicopter
entered a high hover to blow away snow accumulation at the scene. During
the manoeuvre a white-out condition was created. The main rotor
contacted trees,” reads the report.

While such accidents can be catastrophic, the two pilots were able to maintain control of the helicopter and landed immediately.


“The helicopter blades
hit some trees and there was damage to the blades but no injuries,”
ORNGE spokesperson Steve Robinson said.

“That aircraft actually landed safely at the scene without incident beyond clipping those trees,” he said.

The patient was transported to hospital by ground, accompanied by two ORNGE paramedics.

While all four rotor
blades were damaged as they struck the trees, it’s not known whether
other engine components, such as the gearbox, were also damaged in the

ORNGE officials have
made arrangements to have the helicopter moved by truck back to their
facilities in Thunder Bay this week where they can better assess what
repairs are needed, Robinson said.

ORNGE’s helicopter operations have been in the spotlight after a fatal crash earlier in the year. In that May 31 incident, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed minutes after a midnight takeoff from Moosonee airport. That accident remains under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Though ORNGE has two
Pilatus aircraft based in Thunder Bay, this latest accident has left the
northern Ontario city without an air ambulance helicopter. However,
Robinson said, helicopters could be dispatched from other bases if the need arises.

“Rotor service is available if necessary from our Kenora or Sudbury bases,” he said.


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