Pilot lost ‘situational awareness’ before crash: TSB
SASKATOON The pilot of a crop duster that plowed into a field near Aberdeen this summer was concentrating on tasks inside the cockpit rather than looking out the windows when he experienced a loss of “situational awareness” and crashed, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
The 25-year-old pilot sustained serious injuries and the aircraft, an Air Tractor AT-502B owned by Clayton Air Service, was written off following the July 15 incident. No one else was hurt. TSB regional senior investigator Allen Barrett said the pilot had finished spraying one field and climbed to an altitude of a few hundred feet above the ground when he began looking at maps and documents.
“The next thing you know he looked up and he was about to hit the ground,” Barrett said after the TSB released a brief statement on the crash about 20 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
Barrett said the federal organization governing aviation safety is not launching a full investigation, largely because no one died.
Clayton Air Service owner Clayton Rempel said Thursday the TSB’s report is “conclusively” what happened. He said the pilot has recovered from his injuries and returned to flying, and it’s unfortunate accidents happen despite strict safety procedures aimed at protecting pilots and the public.
Barrett said Clayton Air Service fulfilled its obligations following the crash, and held safety meetings as well as individual meetings with its pilots to make sure pilots understood the risks they take.
From 2004 to 2015, the TSB gathered reports of 187 aviation incidents in Saskatchewan, of which 30 involved aerial spraying operations. Over the same period, 244 fewer serious incidents, of which four involved spray planes, were reported.
Most recently, 22-year-old Colby Becker died when his crop duster crashed near Rocanville last July.