Inattention led to pilot crashing crop duster
Flyer was looking at maps, documents prior to aircraft colliding with the ground
The pilot of a crop duster that plowed into a field near Aberdeen this summer was concentrating on tasks inside the aircraft’s 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 crash; 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 added that the federal organization governing aviation safety is not launching a full investigation into the crash, largely because it caused no fatalities.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Clayton Air Service owner Clayton Rempel said the TSB’s report is “conclusively” what happened.
He said the pilot has recovered from his injuries and returned to flying, and that it’s unfortunate crashes happen despite strict safety procedures aimed at protecting pilots and the public.
Barrett said Clayton Air Service fulfilled its obligations in the aftermath of the crash, and held safety meetings as well as individual meetings with its pilots “just to make sure that the company message was clear.”
That message, the TBS investigator added, was to make sure the pilots understood the risks they take.
Between 2004 and 2015, the TSB gathered reports of 187 aviation mishaps in Saskatchewan, of which 30, or 16 per cent, involved aerial spraying operations. Over the same period, 244 less serious incidents, of which four involved spray planes, were reported to the TSB. Most recently, 22-year-old Colby Becker died when his crop duster crashed in a field near Rocanville last July.
The next thing you know he (the pilot) looked up and he was about to hit the ground.
An agricultural spray aircraft similar to the AT-502B that crashed near Aberdeen on July 15 seriously injuring the pilot, flies over a farm field.