NEWS

Pilot error blamed for 2010 Quebec plane crash

01/17/2012 05:22 EST | Updated 03/18/2012 05:12 EDT

A report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has concluded pilot error caused the crash of a float plane in a remote, densely-wooded area north of the Saguenay Lac St-Jean region in July 2010.

Four people died, including the pilot and three passengers — a 13-year-old boy, his father and uncle.

The De Havilland Beaver, owned by Air Saguenay, crashed into a mountain en route from a camp at Lac des Quatre to Lac Margane, Que. — about 150 kilometres northwest of Chicoutimi — on July 16, 2010.

According to the TSB, the pilot of the hydro-plane took off despite poor weather, intending to turn back should the ground visibility not improve.

Shortly after take-off in a light drizzle, the pilot told the base and his passengers that he intended to make a precautionary landing. Moments later — just seven minutes after taking off — the plane crashed into a mountainside.

"The wings, empennage, floats and engine all became detached from the fuselage from the force of the impact," the report said. "The gasoline tanks located in the lower part of the fuselage broke, and the fuel quickly caught fire."

TSB investigators concluded the pilot and front passenger died immediately, while the three occupants behind them survived. One of the survivors helped rescue the other two, but one died of his injuries a short time later.

One passenger, strapped into a plastic chair at the rear of the plane, was ejected from the fuselage on impact and suffered fatal injuries.

Air Saguenay vice-president Jean Tremblay would not comment on the makeshift seat, except to say the airline is contesting a fine it's received for failing to comply with aeronautical safety standards.

Tremblay called the accident a tragedy but added that the final decision of what course of action to take is up to the pilot, a 10-year veteran of the company.

"They have rules, and they follow the rules," Tremblay said. "But you know, sometimes the weather can change very fast, and that morning he took the wrong decision. There's nothing I can more than that, unfortunately."

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