Location: Comox, British Columbia
Status: Investigation Complete
Epilogue (EPI) (pdf 112 kb)
A Buffalo SAR standby crew conducted a currency/proficiency training flight, which included a freefall parachute jump of two Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) into a pre-designated drop zone (DZ). The Team Leader (TL) dispatched streamers over the DZ at an altitude of 3500 feet above ground level (AGL) and then the aircraft commenced a climb to 7000 feet AGL. The Buffalo crew dispatched both SAR tech freefall parachutists over the pre-calculated free-fall exit point. Both jumpers reported being under functional canopies above 3000 feet AGL. Winds at the opening altitude did not cause the jumpers any concerns and they proceeded to the pre-designated DZ. The jumpers were surprised when they encountered a wind shear at approximately 1000 feet AGL, which blew them over the built up area of the hangar line. The Team Member was blown over the hangar and landed in turbulent conditions in the hangar parking lot. The TL experienced a loss of lift at about 100 feet AGL and landed with an increased rate of descent in turbulent conditions between hangars 7 and 14 and between the rotor blades of a Cormorant helicopter that was being towed into the hangar. The Team Lead sustained serious injuries. The Team Member sustained minor injuries.
The investigation determined that the crew did not use all available means to assess wind conditions, which were very close to limits at the time of the jump. As a result of these undetected conditions (wind shear and wind speed close to or above limits) the jumpers were blown off course and away from the Drop Zone towards the hangar. The investigation also found that lighter jumpers are placed at an increased level of risk of injury when wind conditions are greater than 20 knots.
A warning was added to the Standard Manoeuvre Manual (SMM) stating that during turbulent and gusty wind conditions it is highly recommended that the CSAR 7 canopy be flown in full glide without trim tabs. The SMM was also amended to include a requirement to follow the streamer all the way to the ground as a necessary procedure when assessing the wind particularly when wind shear potential exists.
Finally, a Technical Investigation and Engineering Study contract was initiated with the parachute manufacturer to provide more technical data on the parachute's performance when using trim tabs.