Ornge cleared of charges after fatal helicopter crash

Air ambulance service provider should have looked into night-vision technology for new helicopters, but crash involved older one equipped with searchlight
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 01/03/2018

Employers have a legal obligation to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of their employees. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything that is technically possible, as some measures may not be feasible even though they’re available. Air ambulance company Ornge faced this issue when it was charged with safety violations following a fatal night-time helicopter crash after it determined night-vision systems were too costly and difficult to install on its existing helicopter fleet.

An Ontario air ambulance company has had all charges against it dismissed in the wake of a fatal helicopter night-time crash and a controversy over night-vision goggles for its pilots.

Moosonee, Ont., has been the home of helicopter emergency medical services for the surrounding region since at least the 1980s. Most of the flying involves short flights between the base and a hospital in Moose Factory, Ont., on a nearby island. New hires were often placed there, though some experienced pilots also worked there as there were challenges with night flying because there were no light sources on the ground to provide reference for pilots. As a result, night flying was generally done completely by instruments, which required different rules than visual flying in daylight hours.