One still in hospital after military helicopter crash at Gander, N.L., airport
March 11, 2022 By Sarah Smellie, The Canadia Press
GANDER, N.L. — One military member remained in hospital Friday in stable condition after a Cormorant helicopter crash at the airport in Gander, N.L., officials said.
The person was among six crew members on board the CH-149 search and rescue aircraft when the crash occurred at about 3:40 p.m. Thursday at the Gander International Airport. The helicopter was conducting hovering manoeuvres at the airport, which is next to the Canadian Forces Base 9 Wing Gander.
Of the six crew members on board — two pilots, two flight engineers and two search and rescue technicians — four were taken to hospital, Lt.-Col. Lydia Evequoz said in a statement Friday.
“Three of those members taken to hospital have since been released, while one remains in stable condition in hospital in good spirits with their family by their side,” she said.
Two other crew members were assessed at the scene of the crash and didn’t need medical attention, Evequoz added.
The crash caused the Gander airport to shut down on Thursday, but officials said it had reopened as of 9:30 a.m. Friday. One runway was operating at a reduced capacity while another would remain closed until the investigation into the incident had ended, the airport said Friday in a news release.
The crash occurred at the intersection of the two runways, the airport said.
Air force spokesman David Lavallee said in an email Friday that the aircraft “did sustain significant damage.”
“The CH-149 Cormorant fleet entered service in Canada starting in 2001,” he added. “The specific aircraft involved in the accident has been in service for 18 years.”
He said the military wouldn’t provide more details because the crash is under investigation. Pictures from the scene showed the aircraft on its side with its tail apparently missing.
Evequoz said search and rescue services are still available in the province, “despite this unfortunate incident.”
She said a team from the air force’s flight safety directorate was on its way to lead the investigation into the crash.
CH-149 Cormorant helicopters are long-range aircraft that can operate in severe conditions, according to the air force. The aircraft’s frame is nearly 23 metres long, and its rotor span is 18.5 metres.