Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder of an Ontario air ambulance helicopter that crashed in the province’s north, killing all four people onboard.
Transportation Safety Board spokesman Chris Krepski says the recorder will be sent to the agency’s Ottawa lab for analysis in the hope it will shed light on the cause of Friday’s crash.
He says a team of four investigators at the crash scene in Moosonee have determined the aircraft had a “high energy impact” crash and are interviewing potential witnesses and air ambulance officials.
The dead crew members included two pilots and two paramedics.
The Sikorsky S76 helicopter had just left its base in Moosonee to pick up a patient in the remote community of Attawapiskat when it crashed.
Krepski says the recorder can pick up noise from the helicopter engine and rotors, audio warning systems and conversations between the flight crew – providing a glimpse into the moments before a crash.
“If the data from the [voice recorder] is useable of course it will be a great help to the investigation,” Krepski said.
The four victims have been identified as Capt. Don Filliter of Skead, Ont.; First Officer Jacques Dupuy, of Otterburn-Park, Que.; paramedic Dustin Dagenais, of Moose Factory, Ont.; and paramedic Chris Snowball, of Burlington, Ont.
The 33-year-old helicopter crashed around 12:11 a.m., about 0.7 nautical miles away from the Moosonee airport. The terrain was relatively flat and there was good visibility despite light rain, Ornge has said.
Both pilots were known as veteran fliers. Capt. Filliter was a respected pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience and an aircraft maintenance engineer, said Andrew McCallum, the CEO of Ornge, Ontario’s air ambulance service.
Ornge has grounded all five remaining Sikorsky S76 helicopters in its fleet “out of an abundance of caution,” McCallum said on Friday.