Pre-flight check skipped in fatal Richmond plane crash 0
Nearly two years after the fatal Richmond crash that killed both pilots in a Kelowna-bound business flight, investigators reveal a required pre-flight inspection hadn’t been completed before takeoff on Oct. 27, 2011. (QMI AGENCY FILE)
Had the captain of a fatal Kelowna-bound flight completed a pre-flight inspection before taking off in October 2011, the crash that killed two might never occurred.
That was the finding of Transportation Safety Board investigator Bill Yearwood, who said on Wednesday a gas cap that was leaking oil before and during the flight would have been secured if the check had been completed.
Captain Luc Fortin, 44, and co-pilot Matt Robic, 26, both perished when the plane crashed into a Richmond arterial road. The plane’s seven passengers — all business people en route to a convention in Kelowna — survived.
The oil cap was only a catalyst to a chain of events, however, as leaking oil on its own wouldn’t have caused the plane to plunge, Yearwood said.
On Oct. 27, 15 minutes into the flight, Fortin noticed oil was leaking from his left engine. The problem wasn’t an emergency — the oil pressure was still above the required 40 pounds per square inch — but needed to be checked out.
He set the engine to idle and began the flight back to YVR.
Upon his return, Fortin realized his approach speed was too slow and put power into the unimpaired right engine. That, tragically, had the side effect of creating a “drag” on the left wing of at least 300 horsepower of negative force, causing the plane to roll 80 degrees to the left.
Realizing the mistake, Yearwood said, the pilot “immediately pulled back the power on the good engine” to compensate, but his efforts were too late.
Multiple-engine planes, such as the Beechcraft King Air 100 that crashed, are equipped with a propeller-feathering system that turns the blades to eliminate drag in the event of engine failure, he said.
However, procedure only requires feathering when the engine is shut down completely, which wasn’t the case in the fatal crash.
Additionally, that model of aircraft was subject to a voluntary manufacturer’s bulletin, once in 1995 and another in 2000, which had identified unsecured oil caps as potential problems and issued a fix.
That non-mandatory upgrade was not installed on the plane, however.
The impact of the crash also wasn’t serious enough to cause death, despite fuel spilling out of the plane and set aflame by friction from the collision.
The main cause for the fire that killed Fortin and Robic was “electrical arcing” caused by the plane’s electronics, which remained charged two hours after the incident.
Yearwood said recommendations listed in a 2006 TSB report to Transportation Canada would have required safety features, including insulation and electrical upgrades, to reduce the risk of post-crash fires.
The recommendation, however, was rejected as too resource-intensive, he said.
The TSB plans to pursue the less-cumbersome recommendation of using batteries that automatically disconnect on impact to reduce fire risk, Yearwood said.