Helicopter crash still under investigation

It will still be a while before Yukoners find out the details of what caused a helicopter to crash into Nares Mountain, outside of Carcross in July.

It will still be a while before Yukoners find out the details of what caused a helicopter to crash into Nares Mountain, outside of Carcross in July.

The crash killed Horizon Helicopters’ pilot Paul Rosset, a 56-year-old from Yellowknife, and severely injured a 36-year-old Whitehorse resident, who was one of two passengers.

The other man on board was able to call for help from the crash site and was later discharged from Whitehorse General Hospital with minor injuries. The 36-year-old was medevaced to Vancouver with serious spinal injuries.

Investigators with the federal Transportation Safety Board have since been to the territory, but it will still be quite some time before any information is announced, said spokesman John Cottreau.

“Investigations have a number of different phases,” he told the News late last week.

In cases like this, which has been identified as a “class three” accident (there are five classes), the federal body will have to do a “full” investigation, he said.

And unlike the majority of plane crashes, there is no informative “black box” holding some of the answers.

Flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders aren’t required in most helicopters, especially smaller ones like the R44 Raven II that went down last month, said Cottreau.

The federal investigators are still doing their own data collection, which has been made up largely of interviews and sifting through all documents pertaining to the helicopter, including all known maintenance and mechanical checks, repairs and inspections, he said.

After that, the investigators on the case will need to wade through all that information and analyze it.

“It’s never just one cause,” said Cottreau of most flight crashes. “It’s always a sequence of causes and contributing factors that lead to an accident.”

A report will be written and eventually shared with the public, he said.

“We’re still in early days,” said Cottreau. “But we’re going to do a thorough job in the investigation that hopefully leads us to lessons to advance transportation safety and to do that, we’re going to take the time we need.”

Like a coroner’s inquest, for example, the federal board’s investigations do not lay blame or assess liability, said Cottreau.

“That’s for the courts to do,” he said.

On July 10, Rosset was taking his two passengers on a routine sample-gathering trip for Environment Yukon.

The department had been running about 170 grizzly bear DNA stations throughout the Southern Lakes area for several weeks before the crash.

“Basically, the grizzly bears walk by and their fur touches some barbed wire and it collects there,” said department spokesperson Nancy Campbell on the morning after the crash. “We’re just going down to the stations to collect that fur and we do the DNA testing in the office later.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at