Crashed RCAF Chinook recovered from Ottawa River

Avatar for Chris ThatcherBy Chris Thatcher | July 24, 2023

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 31 seconds.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-147F Chinook helicopter involved in a training accident on June 20, 2023, that tragically killed both pilots, has been recovered from the Ottawa River.

The aircraft and its flight recorders were removed from the river at Garrison Petawawa on July 13, according to a statement by the Department of National Defence (DND).

Contracted companies used cranes and other equipment to first lift the helicopter from the water before moving by truck to a hangar on base, where it “remains as part of the ongoing investigation by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Directorate of Flight Safety,” the department stated.

An RCAF CH-147F Chinook, similar to the one that crashed on June 20, flying over the Ottawa River. Mike Reyno Photo

Capt David Domagala, 32, and Capt Marc Larouche, 53, of 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron were killed after the Chinook crashed into the river during a training flight shortly after midnight on June 20. Two other members of the crew were recovered shortly after by Garrison firefighters and taken to hospital in Pembroke with minor injuries.

Domagala of Woodstock, Ontario, served in the Canadian Army Reserve before becoming a pilot. He was posted to 450 Squadron in 2019. Larouche of Amos, Quebec, acquired a private pilot’s license before joining the RCAF. He received his wings in 1993 and flew the CH-135 Twin Huey, CH-146 Griffon, and CH-147F Chinook, serving on domestic and international operations.

The RCAF has not yet provided a cause for the accident, but a Directorate of Flight Safety investigation is ongoing.

Recovery of the helicopter began on July 11, led by a Canadian Armed Forces team working with contracted specialists employing barges, cranes, and other equipment. 

To contain the possible spill of fluids such as fuel or lubricants, specialized absorbent response material was used to enclose the site.

“Assessments found that very little contaminant escaped the aircraft,” DND stated. “In addition, surveys and sampling conducted following the accident and after the recovery found no evidence of any environmental contamination along the riverbank or the beach. The Royal Canadian Air Force is confident that any contamination from the accident and recovery was negligible.”

The department said it would continue to monitor and sample the area for any contamination resulting from the accident or recovery of the aircraft.

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