An Airbus EC-130 helicopter carrying six British tourists on a sightseeing tour went down at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday evening near Quartermaster Canyon on the west side of the Grand Canyon. The crash left three passengers dead. The aircraft’s four other occupants, including the pilot, were taken to the hospital in critical condition. A small explosion and post-crash fire are being reported.
The remote location, difficult terrain, and high winds meant that first responders could only be flown partway to the accident site. They hiked the rest of the way and treated the survivors at the crash location until the conditions improved enough for an Air Force helicopter to airlift the injured out at around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
The accident helicopter was operated by aerial sightseeing company Papillon Airways. Papillon runs a fleet of 48 aircraft and employs more than 600 people. The company reports that it flies around 600,000 passengers each year.
The NTSB is onsite and investigating. A preliminary report on the accident is expected within 10 days.