Air transportation safety investigation A20A0027

Updated in September 2020 : This investigation is in the report phase.

Table of contents

Collision with terrain

Robinson R44 helicopter
Thorburn Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador

The occurrence

On 20 July 2020, a privately registered Robinson R44 helicopter was on a multi-leg cross-country pleasure flight. The helicopter departed Springdale Airport, Newfoundland and Labrador (CCD2), and the pilot planned to refuel at an aircraft maintenance facility located on the north-east side of Thorburn Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador (CCW5). Upon arrival at Thorburn Lake, the helicopter carried out an approach to a gravel parking lot and entered a hover at tree top level, after which the helicopter began to climb vertically. Control was lost and the aircraft collided with terrain. The pilot and front-seat passenger sustained multiple serious injuries. The passenger in the right-hand rear seat was fatally injured. Witnesses close by provided first aid to the occupants and extinguished a small fire. The helicopter was destroyed. TSB is investigating.


Media materials

Deployment notice

2020-07-21

TSB deploys a team of investigators to a helicopter accident near Thorburn Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 21 July 2020 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to a helicopter accident that occurred yesterday near Thorburn Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.


Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence




Investigator-in-charge

Photo of Allan Chaulk

Allan Chaulk joined the TSB’s Air Investigations Branch as a Senior Investigator, Atlantic Region, in March 2019. Allan also worked at the TSB from 1999 to 2010, where he participated in many investigations, including the Swiss Air MD-11 and Cougar S-92 occurrences.

Prior to that, he worked at Transport Canada in the Airworthiness Standards department in Moncton, New Brunswick, where he worked closely with the TSB in his role of Minister’s Observer to many investigations.

In addition to his aircraft maintenance engineer licence, Allan possesses a private pilot licence. During his time off he enjoys anything related to motorsports.


Class of investigation

This is a class 4 investigation. These investigations are limited in scope, and while the final reports may contain limited analysis, they do not contain findings or recommendations. Class 4 investigations are generally completed within 220 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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