NEWS

Quebec City plane crash was avoidable, report finds

08/16/2012 01:11 EDT | Updated 10/16/2012 05:12 EDT
The federal Transportation Safety Board says a plane crash that killed seven people near the Quebec City airport two years ago could have been prevented.

In a report released Wednesday, TSB investigators found that the twin-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff partly because there were problems with training and procedure.

The chartered Beechcraft King Air plane took off at about 6 a.m. on June 23, 2010, heading to Natashquan, an Innu reserve, with a stop in Sept-Îles, Que. Immediately after departure, the co-pilot reported problems with the right engine, and then moments later the aircraft plunged into a field about two kilometres northwest of Jean Lesage International Airport and burst into flames.

Five passengers and two crew members died. There was little left of plane after the ensuing fire, so it took two years to complete the investigation.

Several errors

The TSB's André Turenne said he found several mistakes leading up to the crash. "The aircraft took off with a reduced engine-power setting. This procedure was not endorsed by the manufacturer," he said.

Civil-aviation expert Yvan Miville Deschênes explained that the pilots likely did that to cut costs.

"Because they wanted to minimize the impact of full power on both engines, thus saving money in the long run," Deschênes said.

The TSB also found that, once the right engine stopped working, the pilots didn't rotate the engine's blades to be parallel with the flow of air — a procedure called feathering that helps to reduce drag.

"The right engine propeller blades were not feathered, thus increasing aerodynamic drag and compromising the aircraft's ability to climb and maintain flight level."

Licence revoked

In the weeks following the crash, Transport Canada investigated the charter company, Quebec City-based Aéropro, and found several violations of aviation regulations. As a result, the company's operating licence was revoked on July 31, 2010, and it sold off its half-dozen planes.

Deschênes said people in the industry knew about problems at Aéropro weren't surprised it's permit was yanked.

"Transport Canada had warned them in events prior to that that they lacked lots of security measures in the way they were doing business," he said.

The report also found the crew were not properly trained for emergencies, and mechanical defects were not being logged.

The company still does business running small airports, maintaining aircraft and supplying fuel. An Aéropro representative said the company would not comment on the Transportation Safety Board incident report.

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