NEWS

Helmets urged for chopper pilots after Alberta crash

03/15/2012 02:31 EDT | Updated 05/15/2012 05:12 EDT

The Transportation Safety Board is calling for rules that require helicopter pilots to wear helmets after a pilot died in a crash while fighting fires in northern Alberta last spring.

Montreal pilot Jean-Luc Deba, 54, died when the Bell 212 helicopter he was operating went down in just over one metre of water about 30 metres from shore in Lesser Slave Lake.

Deba was using a bucket attached to the helicopter to scoop water May 20, 2011 when something went wrong.

The investigation concluded the pilot "likely overestimated the helicopter's altitude while on final approach, due to glassy water conditions and a lack of visual references, which led to the water bucket inadvertently entering the water before the helicopter was established in the hover."

"The helicopter was pulled violently rearwards and to the left, as a result of the water bucket entering the water."

"This caused the helicopter to descend and the pilot to lose control. "

The pilot was not wearing his flight helmet, which contributed to the severity of his head injuries, given that his upper body was not restrained by a shoulder harness, the report found.

The lack of regulation or policies that requires helicopter pilots to wear helmets places them at greater risk of incapacitation from head injuries incurred during ditching or a crash, it said.

Deba was declared dead at the scene after attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

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