HALIFAX - Sparks flew and ground crew members sprinted away when a Sea King helicopter tipped forward, smashing its five rotor blades on the tarmac of Canadian Forces Base Shearwater last year, military security video shows.
The video, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information, offers the first public glimpse into the moments when the chopper suddenly jerked forward during the nighttime incident on July 15, 2013, in Halifax.
It shows the rotors striking the runway and slicing off the rear tail from the fuselage as the helicopter slightly lifts off the ground.
Another video taken from inside a nearby maintenance hangar shows dark fluid flowing into the facility within seconds.
Capt. Alexandre Munoz, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Air Force, says after pieces of the helicopter hit the building, it set off a fire suppression system and that is where the fluid came from.
Nobody was hurt but images show that flying debris damaged the building. The military has said the aircraft was a writeoff.
A brief summary of the incident that the military has posted online says the helicopter just completed a crew change for a training mission when it was called to a separate part of the tarmac so that the captain could sign flight records.
As the co-pilot completed the procedures necessary to park the helicopter and the captain began to remove his safety harness, the crew on board felt the aircraft pitch forward rapidly, the summary says.
Preliminary findings indicate that there weren't mechanical problems with the helicopter or maintenance errors, and flight safety investigators are focusing on human factors, the summary adds.
A spokesman for CFB Shearwater said nobody was available to comment on whether any changes in procedures have been made since the incident.
The military declined to release under access to information a preliminary flight safety investigation into the incident that was completed on Aug. 27, 2013, arguing it would interfere with its final investigation. The Canadian Press is appealing.
Munoz says the military is aiming to complete the final report by the end of January.
Attempts by the federal government to replace the 50-year-old fleet of Sea Kings have been repeatedly delayed.
The Sikorsky Aircraft division of United Technologies was originally scheduled to begin delivery of 28 new maritime helicopters in 2012.
Ottawa signed an agreement with Sikorsky in June that federal officials said will allow for the gradual retirement of the Sea Kings beginning next year.
One senior defence official has said the Cyclones —a military version of Sikorsky's S-92 helicopter — are expected to be delivered next year and should begin flying operational missions in early 2016.
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