October 4, 2019

Recent C-150 Jasper Crash: Was it Pilot Error?


Less than three months ago a two-seat Cessna 150 crashed into the Athabasca River shortly after takeoff from the Jasper airport (CYJA) with the loss of the passenger’s life and severe injuries to the pilot. In its investigation report released last week, the TSB treated the incident as a ‘Class 5 occurrence’, meaning that there was limited investigation and it consisted mainly of data collection.

Occurrence location. Image courtesy of Google Earth via the TSB.

The incident occurred on July 21, 2019 at around 13:00. The temperature at the time of takeoff as recorded at a nearby weather station was approximately 24° C and the dewpoint was 6.5° C. The winds at Jasper airport were southerly at 5 to 10 knots and the density altitude was estimated to be 5,088 feet.

The flight was bound for Hinton/Entrance airport (CYJP) and took off from Jasper’s 3,990-foot turf Runway 31, meaning that the pilot took off with a tailwind. A GPS device found on board was sent to the TSB’s laboratory for examination and the aircraft’s flight profile revealed the following: At 25 seconds after takeoff and having attained an altitude of 150 feet above ground level, the aircraft’s ground speed dropped from 83 mph to 64 mph, the plane stalled, veered to the left and entered a spin before impacting the water. The ELT activated upon impact.

The investigation revealed that the aircraft was within its certified weight and balance limits, and the engine and flight controls were determined to be operating correctly. The flaps were in the retracted position.

Top photo courtesy of the TSB.