March 5, 2020

Pitts Crash TSB Report Out


Over-gross aircraft weight, lack of sufficient aerobatic training and incorrect control inputs were all cited in the Transportation Safety Board investigative report on the crash at the Saint-Jean-Port-Joli airport in Quebec on June 16 of last year. The impact claimed the life of the passenger and seriously injured the pilot.

The Pitts S2E, a two-place amateur-built version of the original Pitts biplane, had been performing aerobatic manoeuvres all day at the ‘Open Skies’ event organized at a private and unregistered aerodrome by the Aéro Port-Joli pilots association.

The pilot of the aircraft, holder of an ATPL and a Class 1 instructor rating, had already performed seven acrobatic flights that day without incident. On the final flight, which was meant to terminate at the aircraft’s home base at the Montreal/Aéroparc Île Perrot airport (CSP6), the aircraft pitched over sharply shortly after takeoff and entered an unrecoverable stall before striking the ground.

The TSB managed to reconstruct the short flight with the help of two video recordings made by spectators on the ground. Investigators were able to determine aircraft speeds as well as rudder and elevator positions.

Weather conditions were not a factor, and a post-crash analysis of the aircraft by the TSB found no evidence of a mechanical failure that could have led to the accident.

The complete TSB report is appended below.

Top image by the TSB. Video captures from spectators with TSB annotations