MEC&F Expert Engineers : 4 employees of Hydro One Networks, a transmission & distribution company in Ontario, Canada, killed in a 1999 Aerospatiale AS350 B3 Ecureuil helicopter crash in Tweed, Canada while performing routine maintenance work on a hydro line and at a hydro tower on a property

Friday, December 15, 2017

4 employees of Hydro One Networks, a transmission & distribution company in Ontario, Canada, killed in a 1999 Aerospatiale AS350 B3 Ecureuil helicopter crash in Tweed, Canada while performing routine maintenance work on a hydro line and at a hydro tower on a property

4 employees dead in Hydro One helicopter crash in Tweed, Ont.

Pilot and 3 crew members killed were from different regions of province, Hydro One says

Hydro One

Hydro One is the largest electricity transmission and distribution company in Ontario. They own and operate substantially all of Ontario’s electricity transmission system and their distribution system is the largest in Ontario and spans approximately 75% of the province. Hydro One’s customer base
includes remote communities, rural and urban distribution and local distribution companies.

Hydro One operates a large Airbus Helicopters fleet of AS350’s. In 2014, they selected the AS355 NP for twin-engine operations.

Main Missions: Aerial power line maintenance and transporting equipment & components.

Twitter message from Hydro One:

Our focus remains on our employees and their loved ones during this time. Colleagues and crew members across the province will stand down from their work as we pause to take time to grieve and remember four members from our Hydro One family.

CBC News December 14, 2017

Emergency vehicles were lined up at the site of a helicopter crash in Tweed, Ont., that killed all four people on board. (Katie Simpson/CBC)

Four Hydro One employees died when their helicopter crashed on a rural property in eastern Ontario Thursday afternoon.

The one pilot and three crew members were part of a crew performing routine maintenance work on a hydro line and at a hydro tower on a property in the municipality of Tweed, Ont., when the aircraft went down, Hydro One spokesperson Ferio Pugliese confirmed.

Hydro One has not released the names of the victims pending the notification of next of kin, but Pugliese said they were based in different regions from across the province.

The crash happened on Kim Clayton's property on Upper Flinton Road. 'Nobody should have to lose a loved one at this time, or any time of year, let alone when they go to do a job,' she says. (CBC News).  Nobody should, but shit happens.  Women always live in a fantasy world.

The crash happened shortly before noon ET on Kim Clayton's property on Upper Flinton Road.

Clayton said workers had been working on a hydro tower all week, with helicopters going back and forth, and sometimes landing on a field on the property or dropping workers off at the tower.

She was inside her home when she heard the crash and felt her house shake.

She looked outside to see other hydro workers running toward the tree line. She couldn't see the helicopter, nor could she see any smoke or fire, but she said she saw what looked like a piece of the helicopter in one of the trees.

It took ambulances about 15 minutes to arrive at the remote rural location, about 40 kilometres north of Belleville.

The helicopter crash occurred northeast of Tweed, Ont. (CBC)
'These guys didn't make it'

"When the ambulances weren't leaving [the crash scene], I kind of pieced it together … these guys didn't make it," she said tearfully.

"Four guys die here today on the property. It's pretty shocking."

"Nobody should have to lose a loved one at this time, or any time of year, let alone when they go to do a job," she said.

An Ornge air ambulance was dispatched at 11:53 a.m. and a second air ambulance was dispatched at 12:15 p.m. Both helicopters were later called off.

Police with the Ontario Provincial Police Central Hastings detachment were also among the first to respond to reports of the crash, according to OPP Const. Lisa Robson. The OPP emergency response team and other units also responded to the scene.

OPP and Hydro One trucks stand near the crash site. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Hydro One has eight helicopters in a fleet it dispatches to perform work along hydro lines in remote locations. It's the first time one of its helicopter crews has been involved in a fatal incident, Pugliese said.

Pugliese added grief counsellors are being made available to employees and their families.

"We're a family here at Hydro One," he said. "This has certainly touched us, it's been a very remorseful day and we're spending a fair bit of time providing the necessary support to our people within the field and throughout the operation and network."

Energy minister Glenn Thibeault offered condolences to "the families of those lost in the crash" and said the province would be monitoring the situation closely and providing updates as they become available.

Hydro One says it is making grief counsellors available. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press) 

TSB investigating

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has been notified and three of the agency's investigators have been dispatched to investigate.

The helicopter was a 1999 Aerospatiale AS350 B2, according to Alexandre Fournier, a spokesperson with the TSB.

Investigators will take pictures of the aircraft and gather as much data as possible. They'll also interview potential witnesses as part of the investigation.

"Further along the investigation, they'll consider human factors, they'll interview the operators — the company — examine the wreckage, consider the weather conditions, the maintenance of the aircraft and any other relevant information that can help them to understand exactly how this accident happened," Fournier said.

CBC News has learned weather was not a factor in the crash, meaning investigators will likely be looking at either mechanical failure or pilot error.

The pilot had an excellent record, proper training and no issues of concern, CBC News has learned.

The helicopter remains at the scene. Investigators told the CBC's Katie Simpson that they will protect the crash site overnight and resume their work in the morning.

Date: 14-DEC-2017
Time: 07:00Z
Aerospatiale AS 350B3 Ecureuil
Owner/operator: Hydro One Networks
Registration: C-GOHS
C/n / msn: 3240
Fatalities: Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Tweed, ON - Canada
Phase: Unknown
Nature: Unknown
Departure airport:

Destination airport:

The helicopter crashed near Tweed, Ontario, killing four occupants.



Hydro One

Hydro One is celebrating 65 years of continuous helicopter operations in 2014.

That confirms its place as Canada’s oldest helicopter operating business and the world’s longest serving electric utility to own and fly helicopters.

Since 1949, the utility’s helicopter fleet has crisscrossed the Ontario hinterland patrolling, maintaining and building a vast electrical grid that provides power to millions of households and residents.

Today, Hydro One operates a high-performance fleet of seven single-engine Airbus Helicopters AS350 B2 and AS350 B3 AStar’s.

Turbine Helicopters

In the summer of 1959, Ontario Hydro took a major step when it became the first utility in North American to buy a turbine-powered Jet helicopter and second Canadian customer for the Alouette II.

Ontario Hydro bought a turbine powered Sud Aviation SE3130 Alouette II that featured a much larger cabin, more powerful engine and about twice the lifting capacity of a piston-engine helicopters.

The turbine-powered Alouette II attracted a lot of attention in Toronto in 1959 where the only turbine aircraft you could see were turboprop-powered airliners and jet powered military trainers and fighters.

First Airbus Helicopters

Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, Ontario Hydro expanded the use of helicopters to support its province wide operations.

New medium turbine helicopters helped to build wooden pole lines, high voltage transmission lines and precisely drop linemen onto live voltage lines and towers to perform maintenance and repairs.

In 1991, the utility became an important Airbus helicopter customer as it began renewing its light and heavy helicopter fleet.

The five-seat AS350 B2 AStar was selected and a heavy lift AS332 was added to expand the utility’s capability to build new high voltage transmission lines and help maintain older lines.

The Super Puma operated for several years while the number of AStar fleet grew over 20 years to become the fleet standard.

Hydro One Today

Hydro One Networks Inc. was born in 1999 when Ontario Hydro’s delivery and generation functions were divided into separate companies.

Today the utility operates a fleet of eight helicopters including four Airbus Helicopters’ AS350 B2’s and three AS350 B3’s.

“We use helicopters as a force multiplier to provide efficiency and cost savings,” explains Chief Pilot John Bosomworth. “They are used for power line inspection and maintenance work that is generated by our five-year work plan.”

The AStar fleet fly from the main helicopter base at Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, north of Toronto and from four regional bases across the north of the province in Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay and Dryden.

Hydro One has prime responsibility for 30,000 kilometers of high voltage transmission lines running to major centres and 120,000 km of distribution lines serving 1.2 million consumers.

The helicopter fleet has grown from six to eight aircraft in the past decade with the addition of three high power AS350 B3’s and today flies a total of 4500 hours a year for a wide variety of missions including; inspection and maintenance of provincial high voltage transmission lines, forest and vegetation control work and a multitude of other tasks.

“The AStar has been a very good platform for us and we have had many successes with the aircraft over the past 23 years. The helicopter offers excellent visibility for the pilots and observers and the is extremely stable and reliable, which is absolutely essential for our external platform work.”

“The aircraft provides excellent value in terms of utility and of weight capacity and the AS350 B3 with dual hydraulics has a higher lift capacity allowing us to lift external loads up to 2500 pounds.”

“We’ve also seen a steady progression in the technology available in the helicopter and it has added real value in our job,” Bosomworth. “We used to fly with large rolled maps and now all our transmission and distribution lines are uploaded to the AStar’s GPS navigation system.”

From May to September, two AS350 B2’s are equipped with a platform that attaches outside the right passenger cabin. The platform allows linemen to work outside the aircraft on transmission lines from a hovering helicopter and it is also used to safely transfer linemen to and from the tops of poles and towers during a hover. This in-house program has grown to be very successful and is widely utilized across the province in remote areas.

Hydro One also utilizes the high payload capability of the AStar, especially the AS350 B3, to build wooden pole distribution and transmission lines. This includes flying work crews and their equipment to clear the right of way and dig the holes for the poles and using the helicopter’s external hook to fly the 40 to 100 foot long poles to the site and place them in the ground, many times having to thread the pole through existing overhead wires.

Hydro One will take delivery of a new twin-engine Airbus AS355 NP helicopter in late 2014 to further enhance its operational capabilities. The physical configuration of the AS 355NP is identical to the AStar’s used by line crews and the twin-engine will provide an additional margin of safety for missions.

The AStar fleet especially proves its worth when power to customers is interrupted by damage to a transmission or extensive distribution line caused by a storm, natural event or accident, especially in winter line crews also have snow and extreme temperatures to contend with.

When an ice storm knocked out power to more than 180,000 customers on December 23, 2013 the helicopters were part of the first response effort.

“The initial responsibility of the helicopter crews is to find the source of the problem. Once the problems were identified, the helicopters were used to transport work crews to the remote repair sites all of which were covered in snow.”

By Kenneth I Swartz

The AStars also support Hydro One’s brush control programs that control the regeneration of vegetation to ensure it will never threaten the overhead lines. The helicopters are used to regularly monitor the vegetation along the 230 and 500 Kilowatt right of ways and fly the work crews to the field that perform manual brush control.

“Using the helicopter provides time savings and enhances the workplace safety conditions for our crews working in remote areas,” says Bosomworth.