NEWS

Alberta pilot says new tool could reduce midair crashes

05/15/2012 03:03 EDT | Updated 07/15/2012 05:12 EDT

An Alberta glider pilot says technology — just introduced in Canada — might have warned the pilots in a weekend plane crash they were too close.

Two private planes carrying five people collided northeast of Saskatoon last Saturday, killing five people. Their remains were recovered from the St. Brieux area on Monday.

There have also been two small aircraft crashes in Ontario and B.C. that claimed the lives of four people.

As friends and family mourn the victims, Phil Stade hopes a new warning system called a Flarm might prevent similar incidents from happening.

“In places where they are using it, it has saved lives already,” said the glider pilot.

Flarm is a collision-avoidance system that emits a signal if another plane gets too close.

It has been used for years in Europe.

But Mark Benson who trains students to fly at Mount Royal University says the best instrument in the air remains a pilot's own eyes.

“You want to make sure that the toys aren't distracting from the job at hand,” he said.

Stade says as a pilot that caution doesn't discourage him.

“It's an additional information source ... it doesn't replace keeping your eyes and ears open to what is going on around you,” he said.

A Flarm costs about $2,000.

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