Manufacturing Defect Caused Bell 206L Blade Separation
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says in a December 2013 report that a manufacturing defect by a vendor for Bell Helicopter caused eight feet of a 206L LongRanger’s main rotor blades to separate in flight on Nov. 2, 2011. The pilot and two passengers were killed when the aircraft, operated by Sunrise Helicopters, subsequently crashed shortly after takeoff from Kapuskasing in Ontario.
The TSB report said the broken blade exhibited a complete chord-wise fracture approximately 100 inches from the tip, in addition to a significant void in the adhesive that bonded the lead weights to the blade. There were also numerous secondary fatigue cracks originating from the inner surface of the blade spar. The main rotor system, including the transmission, and the top of the fuselage separated as a unit in flight and came to rest approximately 140 feet west of the main wreckage. The engine separated from the airframe before impact and came to rest 170 feet north of the main wreckage. Various other components, which also separated in flight, were found strewn near the crash site.
Another LongRanger accident in August 2008 was also blamed on defective blade manufacturing. Three people died in that accident.