Air transportation safety investigation A19W0066

Table of contents

Collision with terrain

Grumman American Aviation AA-5B Tiger
Medicine Hat, Alberta, 18 nm E

The occurrence

On at approximately 2235,Footnote 1 a privately operated American Aircraft AA-5B (registration C-GQIJ, serial number AA5B-0544), was on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight from Medicine Hat Airport (CYXH), Alberta to Moose Jaw/Air Vice Marshal C.M. McEwen Airport (CYMJ), Saskatchewan, with a pilot and 2 passengers on board. The aircraft departed during the hours of darkness; official night began at 2207.

There were no records from NAV CANADA of a flight plan being filed or a weather briefing being given to the pilot. The exact weather information that the pilot obtained from other sources prior to departure is unknown.

The aerodrome routine meteorological report (METAR) for CYXH at 2100 indicated calm winds, visibility 4 statute miles (SM) in smoke, broken clouds at 28 000 feet above sea level, and a temperature of 22 °C. At 2200, the visibility at CYXH improved to 6 SM in haze and by 2300, approximately 15 minutes after the accident, to 8 SM.

At 0401 on 02 June, the joint rescue coordination centre (JRCC) Trenton received a call indicating that the aircraft was overdue. The aircraft was expected to arrive at CYMJ at 0030. The JRCC had not received any reports of signals from the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) being detected. A missing aircraft file was opened, and assets were assigned to the search.

At 0934, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ground search identified the occurrence aircraft. Minutes later, a military aircraft flew over the site and received a weak ELT signal. At approximately 0940, 2 search and rescue technicians parachuted into the site. They confirmed that the pilot and the 2 passengers had been fatally injured. The 121.5 MHz ELT was found intact and was manually switched off by first responder personnel.

The aircraft struck the ground at high velocity on unworked farmland approximately 18 nautical miles east of CYXH in the vicinity of Irvine, Alberta (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Accident site, looking west. The white arrow indicates the direction of flight and the initial ground impact (Source: RCMP, with TSB annotations)
Accident site, looking west. The white arrow indicates the direction of flight and the initial ground impact (Source: RCMP, with TSB annotations)

The aircraft attitude was approximately 45° nose down and some left bank because the left wingtip struck the ground first. The airframe had broken up completely; however, all aircraft parts were accounted for at the accident site. The impact was not survivable.

The degree of breakup and damage from the impact precluded any detailed assessment of the flight control system and aircraft systems. The portions of the flight control system, engine, propeller, and flight instruments that were examined did not exhibit any failures that would have prevented normal operation.

According to the records reviewed, the aircraft was certified and maintained in accordance with regulations. There were no outstanding defects noted in the journey log, and the aircraft was being operated within the weight and balance design limits.

The pilot held a student pilot permit that had expired on 01 May 2014, and a Category 4 medical certificate that had expired on 24 June 2017. There are no Transport Canada records showing that the pilot held an aeroplane license or a rating to fly passengers at night. According to the pilot’s personal log, he began his private pilot training in Regina, Saskatchewan, in April 2010 and accumulated 83.1 hours of dual flight training time before his first solo flight in December 2011.

The pilot’s flight hours at the time of the accident are unknown, because his personal log was not up to date. At 07 October 2012, the pilot had 142.3 hours of total flight time recorded in his log.

The pilot first flew the occurrence aircraft on 30 April 2014. According to the aircraft journey log, the pilot had acquired approximately 40 hours of night flying with another pilot on board.

Media materials

Deployment notice


TSB deploys a team following a fatal small aircraft accident near Medicine Hat, Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta, 2 June 2019 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team to the site of a fatal accident involving an American Aviation AA-5B near Medicine Hat, Alberta. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Mike Adam

Mike Adam joined the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) in early 2014, bringing with him extensive experience in aviation line maintenance and quality assurance for transport category air carriers. Mr. Adam also has experience with various single and twin engine aircraft, both piston and turbine powered, as well as amateur-built aircraft.

Class of investigation

This is a class 5 investigation. Class 5 investigations are limited to collecting data, which are then stored in the modal database. If TSB investigators deployed to the occurrence site, a short description of the occurrence will be added to this page once the investigation has been completed. These investigations are generally completed within 90 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB 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.

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.

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