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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 140430
Last updated: 20 March 2021
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Time:08:24 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic B212 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 212
Owner/operator:Airlift AS
Registration: LN-OLK
C/n / msn: 30722
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Adventfjorden, Svalbard -   Norway
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Svalbard Longyear Airport (ENSB)
Destination airport:
The VFR-flight, was conducted under arctic conditions in total darkness. The Bell 212 operated by the Norwegian company Airlift AS departed Svalbard Longyear Airport (ENSB) at 0818 hours and flew approximately three minutes up to a mountain plateau at 1 560 ft elevation. The landing on the snow covered ground northeast of the airport took place with the aid of the helicopter’s landing light and two externally mounted searchlights. The wind was of no importance and the visibility good.

All the three passengers (all scientists) departed the helicopter while the rotor was turning. The crew changed duties and the co-pilot became the pilot flying for the return flight. After take-off the helicopter entered hover and turned right until the crew had the distant lights from the airport in sight.

The crew were first guided by light from the helicopter reflected on the snow, but when the ground surface of the steep slope disappeared in darkness, the co-pilot navigated on visual references from the airport. The Commander was first worried by a rather high rate of descent, but started to look out for a possibly conflicting aircraft when he saw an expected sink rate of 600 – 700 ft/min on the VSI.

The flight lasted about 80 seconds before the helicopter impacted the ice on the Advent fjord about midway between the departure point and the airport.

The Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) officer at the airport received ELT signals and raised the alarm and a SAR-helicopter was airborne within 35 minutes. The crew was located after 7 minutes search and brought to hospital in Longyear.

Extreme environmental conditions prevented any salvage of the helicopter. It further turned out that the co-pilot has lost his memory concerning the last flight and this has hampered the investigation significantly.

The AIBN has not found any conclusive causal factors to the accident. However, it has been possible to single out black hole effect (visual illusion) as one of the major contributing factors. In addition it appears that the crew did not adhere to the company policy for VFR flights during night. Furthermore it turned out that the written procedures of the company for the actual type of operation were insufficient. Other factors involved were crew complacency and defective crew coordination. A possibility of the co-pilot being subject to temporary reduced vigilance and problems related to the radio altimeter is also discussed in the report.

The AIBN has submitted two safety recommendations. One safety recommendation deals with the company’s procedures for VFR flights during darkness. The other is related to lack of ATS- procedures concerning reception of distress signals.

The wreckage of the helicopter was discovered in December 2011 by A REMUS 100 autonomous underwater vehicle.


Revision history:

15-Dec-2011 13:11 gerard57 Added
06-Nov-2013 17:06 TB Updated [Registration, Cn, Location, Country, Nature, Narrative]
25-May-2015 19:59 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
06-Sep-2017 18:32 TB Updated [Location, Source]
11-May-2020 11:39 Aerossurance Updated [Source]

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