Pi­lot lost ‘sit­u­a­tional aware­ness’ be­fore crash: TSB

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - ALEX MACPHER­SON amacpher­son@post­media.com

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.

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