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News release

TSB calls for lightweight flight recording systems on small commercial aircraft

Gatineau, Quebec, 14 May 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is calling on Canada's small aircraft operators to equip their fleets with lightweight recorders to monitor flight data, and is pressing Transport Canada to work with industry to make it happen. This TSB recommendation is part of an investigation report (A11W0048) released today in which investigators could not conclusively determine why a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter lost control and broke up in flight in the Yukon in March 2011.

"This was yet another accident involving a small commercial operator," said Wendy Tadros, Chair of the TSB. "In Canada, 94% of commercial aircraft accidents in the last 10 years involved these operators, and together, these accidents accounted for 95% of commercial aviation fatalities. We need to look at new ways of bringing these numbers down."

"For decades, recorded flight data has been instrumental in advancing safety for our larger operators," added Tadros. "We think flight data monitoring should be an important tool for Canada's smaller carriers too – a tool to help them manage safety in their operations."

The turbine-powered DHC-3 Otter, operated by Black Sheep Aviation and Cattle Co. Ltd, was flying from Mayo to the Rackla Airstrip in the Yukon, a 94-mile flight. Approximately 19 minutes after departure, an emergency locator transmitter signal was received and a search and rescue helicopter was dispatched. A few hours later the wreckage was located on a hillside 38 nm northeast of Mayo. The aircraft broke up in flight and the pilot, who was the sole occupant died.

"Without recorded information, we were not able to determine why this aircraft broke up in-flight," added Tadros. "Data from lightweight flight recorders will certainly help the TSB investigate after an accident, but more than that, it will give Canada's smaller carriers information they can use to prevent accidents. We see it as a win-win and ask Transport Canada to get the ball rolling as soon as possible."

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