May 30, 2019

VFR Flight Into IMC Likely Led To Brantford Crash


The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report into the plane crash last November at Brantford airport (CYFD) that claimed the lives of both the pilot and his passenger was released earlier this week. The report cites poor weather conditions, the pilot’s lack of an instrument rating and the lack of anti-icing or de-icing equipment installed on the aircraft as contributing factors.

The Piper PA-28R-200 (Arrow) took off from Burlington airport (CZBA) at 00:28 (all times EST) on November 13, headed for CYFD, 28 nautical miles away. When it arrived in the vicinity of CYFD at 00:43, the pilot activated the pilot-controlled runway lights (ARCAL). Radar data showed the Arrow began circling at 00:43 at 2000 feet ASL and at a groundspeed of 110 knots. The Arrow continued to circle, gradually descending to 1100 feet and slowing to 60 knots until 01:14 (airport elevation is 815 feet). The pilot continued to reactivate the aerodrome lights as they self-extinguished.

At 01:15, when the aircraft was at 1000 feet and travelling at a groundspeed of 50 knots, radar contact was lost. The Arrow crashed on the airport grounds very near this location. The 121.5 MHz ELT did not activate. The aircraft wreckage was discovered by airport workers hours later when they arrived for work in the morning.

The investigation revealed a number of factors that either did or could have contributed to the accident. These include weather conditions at the time of the flight which, all indications are, were not conducive to flight in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Weather radar records also show that icing conditions were prevalent along the route at the time of the flight.

An autopsy performed on the pilot also revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.066%. However, this evidence is inconclusive given the length of time between death and the time the autopsy was performed.

It was also revealed that the 76-year-old pilot was not legal to operate an aircraft at the time of the accident as his medical certificate was under suspension, rendering his private pilot licence invalid. Although the aircraft journey log’s last entry was before the March 4, 2018 date he lost his flying privileges, evidence was discovered that he made a number of flights since.

In their report, the TSB emphasized the restrictions on alcohol consumption prior to operating an aircraft, noting that, due to their urging, Transport Canada amended CARs section 602.03 last December to increase the time period between alcohol consumption before operating an aircraft from eight hours to 12 hours.

In response to the non-activation of the ELT, manufacturer Technisonic Industries Ltd has issued a service bulletin (SB ELT19-01) recommending that the inertia switch in their ELTs be tested every year and replaced after five years in service.

The full TSB report can be seen below.