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Reduced rate of climb and excess weight among causal factors in fatal 2012 air accident near Kelowna, British Columbia

Richmond, British Columbia, 27 November 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A12P0136) into the crash of a Piper PA-30 near Brenda Mines west of Kelowna, British Columbia. The accident cost the lives of 2 of the 4 people onboard.

On 13 August 2012, the privately-operated Piper Twin Comanche left Penticton Airport, British Columbia, at 14:32 Pacific Daylight Time on a flight to Boundary Bay with 1 pilot and 3 passengers onboard. The aircraft flew northbound over Okanagan Lake for approximately 20 nautical miles before turning west into a valley. This was about 14 nautical miles further than planned due to a lower than expected rate of climb. The aircraft wreckage was located about 2½ hours later in a wooded area near the Brenda Mines site, approximately 18 nautical miles west of Kelowna.

The TSB investigation found that a number of factors contributed to the accident including a reduced rate of climb. The reduced rate of climb was attributed to atmospheric conditions, the aircraft being over its gross takeoff weight, reduced power in the right engine, and the decision not to use available turbochargers.

The investigation also determined that the safety of passengers could have been improved if the aircraft had been equipped with shoulder harnesses to complement the available lap belts. Of note, investigators also established that the risk of a post-crash fire was reduced because the aircraft battery had disconnected during the crash, thereby removing a potential ignition source for the remaining aviation fuel.

Following the accident, NAV CANADA and Transport Canada have added information on recommended altitudes when departing the Okanagan Valley and suggest flying routes between Princeton, Brenda Mines, highway 97C and Okanagan Lake. As well, a new sign was installed at the Penticton Airport advising pilots to climb to 5000 feet prior to turning west or east when departing the Okanagan Valley.

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