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Loss of control during a simulated engine failure led to fatal collision with terrain near the Calgary/Springbank Airport, Alberta, in October 2017

Associated links (A17W0172)

Edmonton, Alberta, 21 November 2018 – Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (A17W0172) into a loss of control and subsequent fatal collision with terrain near the Calgary/Springbank Airport, Alberta, in October 2017. The occurrence highlights the need for the mandatory installation of lightweight flight-recording systems on commercial aircraft not currently required to carry them, as per TSB Recommendation A18-01.

On the morning of 26 October 2017, a Springbank Air Training College Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II departed from the Calgary/Springbank Airport, Alberta, with a student pilot and flight instructor on board. The purpose of the flight was to conduct a multi-engine training flight prior to a flight test for the student. Approximately 70 seconds after takeoff and 0.8 nautical miles south of the runway, the aircraft rolled to the left, entered a steep, descending left turn, and collided with terrain. There was a post-impact fire, and the aircraft was destroyed. The 2 occupants were fatally injured. The aircraft’s 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter did not activate. The aircraft was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) or flight data recorder (FDR), and neither was required by regulation. Consequently, it was not possible for TSB investigators to determine the exact actions of the crew or a more precise cause of the accident.

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. It appears that, during this exercise, the maximum power was not set on the right engine to enable the aircraft to achieve the 1-engine-inoperative best rate-of-climb airspeed (VYSE) and a positive rate of climb. The airspeed decayed below the intentional 1-engine-inoperative speed to the minimum control airspeed (VMC) and the aircraft departed controlled flight and collided with terrain. The asymmetric power condition with the simulated left-engine failure at VMC would have resulted in a VMC roll at a height from which the pilots were unable to recover before impact with the terrain. 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 occurrence, the Springbank Air Training College published updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) specifying minimum initiation altitudes for simulated engine failure exercises, as well as procedures for simulated engine failure after takeoff and procedures for simulated single-engine failure on approach. The SOPs also specify the minimum altitudes at which various engine failure simulations may be initiated.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376