Aviation news release 2010

TSB # A02/2010

"Flying in bad weather risks lives", cautions TSB


(Gatineau, Quebec, September 22, 2010) – The TSB cautioned the aviation community today that flying in low visibility is causing too many deaths in Canada.

In its final report (A08P0353) into a 2008 accident that claimed 7 lives on Thormanby Island, BC, the TSB found the flight was likely conducted below weather minimums required for visual flight rules (VFR). As a result, the pilot did not see the island until seconds before impact.

TSB's Bill Yearwood said, "There are some hard lessons that need to be learned and re-learned in aviation and this is one of them."

Yearwood went on to say, "VFR pilots must be able to see the ground below and ahead of them at all times. It's almost impossible to avoid obstacles and rising ground when clouds are low, the visibility is poor and you're flying at twice the speed of cars on the highway."

Aircraft colliding with land or water under crew control are among the deadliest accidents in aviation. They account for 5 per cent of accidents but 25 per cent of fatalities in Canada. The risk is even greater when aircraft venture into mountainous terrain in poor weather. That is why Collisions with Land and Water is one of the nine critical safety issues on the TSB's highly publicized safety Watchlist.

"Competition is strong and customers can put pressure on companies to complete flights", says Yearwood. "We need to see better decisions from companies and pilots to prevent these kinds of accidents."

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The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca