Papillon helicopter crashes in Grand Canyon with multiple fatalities

Papillon Helicopters

Papillon EC-130 goes down during tourist flight after departing Grand Canyon to return to Boulder City Airport.

At approximately 1720 (Mountain Time) on February 10th, 2018, an Airbus Helicopters EC-130B4  operated by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crashed near Quartermaster Canyon after departing to return to the company’s base of operations at Boulder City, Nevada.

Onboard the aircraft were the pilot, and six passengers reportedly from the United Kingdom. According to Police Chief Francis E. Bradley Sr. of the Hualapai Nation Police Department, three of those onboard were confirmed deceased, while the remaining four were reported to have sustained critical injuries. The evacuation of the surviving injured passengers was complicated due to the remote location and poor weather conditions in the location of the accident where a multi-agency rescue effort was mounted to recover the injured passengers, that took place around midnight when the injured were evacuated with the assistance of military aircraft.

A Papillon Helicopters EC130 B4 conducts a tour flight outside of Page, Arizona. Photo by Ryan Mason
A Papillon Helicopters EC130 B4 conducts a tour flight outside of Page, Arizona. Photo by Ryan Mason

The helicopter sustained considerable damage in the crash, as seen in video footage uploaded to social media that showed a post crash fire that was burning in the wreckage.

The last fatal accident in the Grand Canyon occurred on May 18, 2014 involving an AS-350 also belonging to Papillon. The accident occurred when the pilot set the collective friction lock, exiting the running aircraft for an unknown reason. The running helicopter’s friction lock became unfastened, allowing the helicopter to roll over as the collective raised, fatally striking the pilot.

Papillon Helicopters was the first helicopter tour company  in the world, and was also one of the founding companies to form the  Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS.) TOPS certified operators ensure member companies that carry certification, treat safety as a top priority and obey standards and rules that exceed FAA safety standards. Papillon operates fifty-seven rotorcraft consisting of twelve Bell 206L, one Bell 206L-3, four AS350B2, ten AS350B3e, twenty two EC130B4, seven EC130T2 and one MD902.


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