Aviation Investigation A15W0069

Collision with terrain

The occurrence

On 22 May 2015 an Air Tractor AT 802A, operated by Conair Group Inc., was conducting fire suppression operations 26 nm NW of Cold Lake, Alberta. The aircraft was the last of a formation of four that were skimming water from Burnt Lake, approximately 1-2 miles to the west of the fire, and dropping it on the fire. The formation had already done two drops on the fire from west to east with a turnout to the north. After the third drop, the accident aircraft collided with terrain and the pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries.

Map of the area


Photo of Fred Burow

Fred Burow is a senior operations investigator with the TSB Western Regional Office in Edmonton. Fred has been with the TSB since January of 2013. Before joining the TSB, Fred worked at Transport Canada where he gained experience as an inspector for aerodrome safety, air carrier inspections and as a flight operations manager and training pilot for Transport Canada’s Aircraft Services Directorate. Besides extensive fixed-wing aircraft experience, Fred gained valuable rotary-wing experience with the Canadian Armed Forces as a crew commander, flight safety officer, squadron standards officer and manager of flight operations at the Canadian Forces Flight Training School.


Select image to see it in full size.

Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.


Deployment notices

TSB will deploy a team of investigators to an aircraft accident near Cold Lake, Alberta
Read the deployment notice