January 11, 2018

Unstable Approach Cited in Crash


The Transportation Safety Board says the crash that killed former Transport Minister Jean Lapierre was the result of the pilot’s decision to continue an unstable approach to land at the airport on Îles de la Madeleine Airport. In its final report on the crash, which killed Lapierre, his wife and three other family members along with the two pilots, the TSB said the pilot got behind the aircraft with his decision to delay descent from 21,000 feet and never got the MU-2 into the correct configuration during the instrument approach. “We have seen too many of these unstable approaches in the past lead to tragic accidents,” said Kathy Fox, TSB Chair. “It is important that pilots consider conducting a go-around when an approach is unstable. We will continue to highlight the risks of unstable approaches until there is a reduction in the number of accidents in which approach stability was a causal or contributory factor.”

The report says that after essentially diving for the airport to lose excess altitude, the pilot let the airspeed bleed off to 99 knots, within four knots of the stall, at 500 feet AGL. The pilot firewalled the engines and the resulting torque upset the plane, putting it at a 70-degree angle of bank. The pilot managed to correct the bank but ran out of altitude and the plane crashed about 1.4 nautical miles short of the runway. All occupants were killed in the crash. The TSB also noted that the aircraft was equipped with a simple flight data recorder that allowed investigators to reconstruct details of the crash sequence. The recorder wasn’t required but had been voluntarily installed and its presence highlighted another major recommendation from the TSB. “The benefits of lightweight recorders are obvious: knowing what happened is the first step to understanding why. Although the TSB does not endorse any single product, it would be fair to say that the lightweight recorder on this aircraft can be viewed as an indication of the way forward,” said Fox.