MONTREAL – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is citing the pilot’s lack of experience in instrument flying, particularly at night, for a helicopter crash that killed three people near Drummondville, Que., last year.
The Robinson R44 Raven I helicopter left Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Que., Feb. 1, 2018 with the pilot and 2 passengers on board headed for the province’s Lanaudiere region.
It took off at 7:45 p.m., and about 45 minutes later a distress signal was received from the helicopter’s emergency transmitter. The aircraft, destroyed by impact and a subsequent fire, was found in a field at about 9:35 p.m.
The pilot was 57-year-old businessman Jean-Claude Mailhot. He, his 32-year-old daughter Janie, and her friend Nathalie Desrosiers all died in the crash.
In a report made public Monday, the TSB says it is highly likely bad weather caused the pilot to experience spatial disorientation and lose control of the aircraft.
The pilot had a valid license and was rated to fly at night. But given his training and limited experience with night flights, investigators say is it likely he did not have the necessary skill to respond to a significant reduction in visual references to the ground.
The reports notes that current regulations do not require pilots to maintain their night-flying skills once they obtain their rating.