Northern Shield Helicopters – Bell 205A – Suspected Drive Train Failure – Water Landing

C-FYHD, a Bell 205A-1 skid-equipped aircraft operated by Northern Shield Helicopters, was conducting belly-hook water bucket operations 24 nautical miles North West of Hudson Bay, SK (CYHB). The pilot was hovering the helicopter over Buckmayer Lake, SK with the bucket in the water while waiting for instructions from the bird dog aircraft when there was an abnormal noise, which was accompanied by a lateral vibration. The pilot began to manoeuvre the helicopter toward the shore and, after travelling approximately 100 metres, the vibration changed to a vertical vibration and worsened. The pilot informed the bird dog pilot that there was a drive train problem, then landed the aircraft in the lake close to shore. During the approach, the tail rotor contacted trees. Once on the water, the shaking caused both crew doors to pop open. The pilot shut the engine down and pulled collective pitch to slow the rotors. The helicopter floated and, after the rotor system came to a stop, the pilot exited the aircraft and swam about 15 metres to shore. The helicopter eventually rolled onto its side, and sank in about 6 feet of water. The bird dog aircraft was circling the site and initiated rescue operations. After firefighters cleared a landing pad, the pilot was recovered from the site.
The pilot was uninjured, however was transported to hospital for observation.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage and was recovered from the site. The investigation is ongoing.