June 2012 - Aircraft Safety - A Team Effort

Safety Alert Type: 
Booming and Towing
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Mike and Dave had put in lots of hours together in the 206 Jet Ranger. Accessing tough locations, slinging loads, or bucketing water on fires; they had learned to work together safely and efficiently.

Mike was laying out a block and he planned for Dave to pick him up at a clearing they had identified on their morning flight. Just to be sure, Mike and Dave both took GPS waypoints of the pick-up location before he was dropped off.

The layout went faster than anticipated and Mike ended up at the clearing with some time to spare. The clearing looked tight for space now that he was on the ground so he got out his ax and cut down the alder that might be in the way of the tail rotor.

As the helicopter approached the clearing, Dave radioed about a storm that was quickly closing in. As Dave was landing, Mike kept an eye on the tail rotor for him to make sure it didn’t hit any brush or slash.

There was a rush to get going but Mike took it slow. He watched for Dave’s signal that it was OK to approach, then he carefully walked to the front of the helicopter on the downhill side, and put his cruise vest and bear spray in the rear cargo compartment.

As they lifted off, it became apparent that they would have to pick their way home, dodging storm clouds, fog and the mountainous terrain. With some effort, Dave was able to find a valley that they could follow to town where the fog wasn’t too bad. After dropping down into the valley, Mike suddenly remembered the power line construction plan he had seen for this area! Not wanting to hit the newly constructed line in the poor conditions, they quickly turned around and headed for a nearby camp to wait for a break in the weather.

Passengers are an important part of the aircraft safety team. Develop a good working relationship and communicate with your pilot. Ask questions and be familiar with the aircrafts safety procedures and the location of emergency equipment.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Share your local knowledge with the pilot to keep them informed and up to date.
  • Don’t push the pilot as they are the best judge of their limits and the aircraft’s limits.
  • Help your pilot out! Pilots welcome an extra set of eyes to watch for hazards like birds, snags or poor weather.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly. Have a plan B and be prepared to spend the night in the bush if the plane or helicopter cannot pick you up. Identify alternate landing locations such as camps or other industrial sites.
  • Underwater egress training for pilots and passengers is a good idea if flying over water.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. Most aircraft have GPS that can be uploaded with waypoints and routes to follow. This allows for more efficient flights and gives accurate locations in case of emergencies.
  • Slow yourself down when working around aircraft. They are expensive to run so most people feel a strong urge to rush. Think about what you will do as the aircraft approaches then calmly follow your plan.
  • It’s noisy around aircraft; realize that this limits communication between yourself and your coworkers. Protect your hearing if working around aircraft for longer periods of time.
  • Buckle up and use the shoulder strap when in the aircraft. Buckle up the seatbelt again once you leave.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Additional Resources

  1. Check out this link to the BCFSC Helicopter Passenger Safety Guide: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/files/BCFSC%20Helicopter%20Passenger%20Safety%20Guide%20April%202012.pdf
  2. Air Carrier Standards from Interfor and BCFSC: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/files/Air%20Carrier%20Standards_0.pdf
  3. Here’s a link to a Transport Safety Board report on seaplane safety: http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2009/a09p0397/a09p0397.asp
  4. Check out this link that shows aircraft underwater egress training: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkhliFjlk-w


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