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An ORNGE helipopter flies over the Moose River en route from Moose Factory to Moosonee. (Paul Lantz)
An ORNGE helipopter flies over the Moose River en route from Moose Factory to Moosonee. (Paul Lantz)

Ornge faces labour code charges related to helicopter crash Add to ...

Ornge, Ontario’s air ambulance service, is facing 17 charges in relation to last May’s deadly helicopter crash in Northern Ontario that killed four of the company’s employees.

The charges are all listed as offences under the Canadian Labour Code.

On May 31 2013, a Sikorsky S-76A helicopter took off shortly after midnight from the Moosonee airport near James Bay. According to Transport Canada, contact with the helicopter was lost less than 15 minutes after take-off and the helicopter crashed approximately one nautical mile northeast of the airport.

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Four Ornge employees were killed in the early-morning crash. The helicopter was flying to Attawapiskat, a remote First Nation community about an hour away.

According to court documents, Ornge allegedly “failed to ensure the health and safety of its employees … by permitting pilots to fly the S-76A helicopter without adequate training in operation of that specific aircraft.”

The document also alleges that the company failed to ensure employee safety by failing “to provide adequate supervision for daily flight activities at Moosonee,” permitting “an aircraft to be flown by a pilot with insufficient experience in night operation,” and “failing to provide pilots with a means to enable them to maintain visual reference while operating at night.”

The air ambulance company has also been charged with allegedly failing to “ensure the supervisors and managers had knowledge of the Canada Labour Code Part II.”

None of these charges have been proven.

In a statement, the company confirmed it had received the summons.

“Ornge confirms it has received a summons with respect to charges laid in connection with the accident under the Canada Labour Code’s occupational health and safety provisions,” the company said in statement. “Ornge is currently reviewing this documentation, and we cannot comment further as this matter is before the courts.”

The company also said that it has been working to enhance the safety of its crews and patients with Transport Canada “both before and after the May 31 incident,” including an audit of “all training records to identify and address any training deficiencies” and initiating a “study of additional technologies on helicopters to enhance night safety.”

“Ornge remains committed to providing high quality air ambulance and medical transport service, while taking any and all steps necessary to ensure the safety of our patients and crews,” the company said in the statement.

With files from Tu Thanh Ha and Karen Howlett

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