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The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has released its findings on a February 2018 incident where a life raft inadvertently fell from a Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopter through the roof of a house in Opa-locka, near Miami, Fla.
The life raft fell from the aircraft post-mission at 500 feet (152 metres) from the ground, while the crew was commencing pre-landing checks.
An occupant of the house sustained minor injuries, and there was damage to the roof and one bedroom of the house. There were no injuries to the crew or damage to the helicopter.
The aircraft, from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, was operating with a crew of six out of the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on a mission that was part of Exercise Southern Breeze, and consisted mostly of over-water hoisting work.
The instructor flight engineer on board witnessed the raft fall from the helicopter, and the crew circled the aircraft back overhead the house to mark the location before continuing back to the airport for landing.
Local police assisted RCAF personnel in recovering the raft from the house.
According to the RCAF’s summary report, released on Aug. 20, the life raft was secured inside the helicopter by a lap belt, but the report said the exact cause of how the lap belt became unsecured during the mission could not be determined.
A day later, on Aug. 21, the Ottawa Citizen reported that the RCAF’s actual investigation report declared the lap belt buckle was unintentionally snagged at an unknown time during the mission through crew movement in the helicopter cabin, causing it to release and fall from the aircraft.