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Alberta plane crash happened during engine failure training: safety board


CALGARY — The Transportation Safety Board says the fatal crash of a small plane west of Calgary last year is likely to have happened during simulated engine failure training while the plane was too low to the ground to regain control.

An instructor and student with Springbank Air Training College died when the low-wing Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II aircraft crashed Oct. 26, 2017, the board said in a report Wednesday. The pair were to do a multi-engine training flight and then the student was to take a flight test.

The report said the plane rolled to the left about 70 seconds after takeoff, took a steep downward left turn and hit the ground. It caught fire and the plane was destroyed.

There were no voice or data recorders aboard, which prompted the safety board to reiterate its call for them to be mandatory on small aircraft.

"Despite the lack of more precise flight data, the investigation found that the student pilot and the flight instructor were likely conducting a simulated left-engine failure on takeoff," the report said.

It said it appears that the right engine was not set to maximum power, which prevented it from hitting the right speed and rate of climb to keep the plane in control. That would have caused a roll at a height from which the pilots could not recover before impact.

"The investigation also found that if simulated engine failures are conducted at low altitudes, there is a risk that pilots will be unable to recover in the event of a loss of control."

After the crash, the college brought in minimum altitudes for simulated engine failure exercises.

The plane was the newest of two aircraft the college was using at the time. The plane was imported from the United States nearly three months before the crash and was properly certified, equipped and maintained, the board said.  

The instructor and student, who were not identified in the report, were certified and qualified for the flight. The instructor had been with the college since 2012 and the student had begun his training in March 2016.

"The investigation determined that there was nothing to indicate that the performance of the pilots was degraded by physiological factors."

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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