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TC Issues Cherokee Column Alert

A Cherokee column snapped off during landing last May.

Transport Canada has issued a Civil Aviation Safety Alert to “operators and maintainers of Piper PA-28 Series Aeroplanes” to do an immediate “detailed visual inspection” of control columns in their aircraft with particular attention to the T-joint weld.

At annual, TC says the column should come out for magnetic particle inspection to check that weld for cracks.

The action comes eight months after a Manitoba flight instructor had the column in a well-used Cherokee break off in his hands while flaring to land.

Tom Larkin told Canadian Aviator he and his student heard a loud snap noise while the aircraft was settling to the runway. The landing was safe but there was no pitch or bank control available. A subsequent inspection showed the vertical part of the column had snapped at the weld to the horizontal member.

TC says the subject aircraft and a non-flying Cherokee on the ramp both had 18,000 hours of training use and the other aircraft’s column was cracked, too.

Flight training environments can be inherently more demanding on aeroplanes due to sudden, harsh and repetitive flight control inputs,” the alert said. “Prolonged operation of aeroplanes in such environments can result in fatigue of aeroplane components, including the control column.”

The potential problem could apply to all early Cherokee models from the 140 to 235 series aircraft.

WestJet To Expand Overseas

WestJet will expand long-haul service.

The WestJet Pilots Association has agreed to back the company’s plans to expand long-haul operations.

The carrier launched service to London Gatwick Airport from four Canadian cities last year and service to Hawaii from  Calgary and Edmonton.  There have been service issues with the used Boeing 767s it’s using but the routes have been generally successful according to the company.

“Our long-haul, wide-body flights to Hawaii and London (Gatwick) have brought low fares and more choices to hundreds of thousands of guests, reinforcing our position as Canada’s low-fare leader,” said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet CEO.

“This agreement reflects the collaborative relationship we have with the WestJet Pilots Association (WJPA) and now allows us to proceed with plans to expand our wide-body operations to new destinations in the future. We will now turn our attention to acquiring additional wide-body aircraft to satisfy the demand for our low fares.”

The airline has also started using 767s on its high volume Calgary-Toronto routes.

Minor Injuries in Caravan Mishap

Caravan put down just short of the airport in Fort McMurray. Photo by Mike Clark via CBC.

Four occupants of a Cessna Caravan suffered mainly bruises after the aircraft lost power and landed short of the runway at Fort McMurray Airport Tuesday.

The privately operated aircraft came to rest about 50 metres short of the runway after an emergency landing on a service road.

The plane was on a flight from Camrose to Fort McMurray and the pilot reported engine trouble. The CBC is reporting he initially tried to set the aircraft down on a highway but it was too busy. He ended up in a clear area between the highway and the runway after clearing some power lines and a berm.

“God knows what would have happened if they had hit all those things,” local emergency services spokesman Brad Granger told the CBC.

The Transportation Safety Board is not planning a public investigation.

Christmas Story on CBC

Kath Boake’s illustration captured the essence of the Christmas Mission Home.

Canadian Aviator columnist and feature writer Rich Pittet reached a national audience with a fiction story he wrote for the holiday season.

Pittet, a retired RCAF pilot, wrote a story that mirrors The Shephard, by Frederick Forsyth but stars and all-Canadian cast of airmen and aircraft.

Christmas Mission Home tells the story of a young RCAF Tutor pilot who’s flight from Comox to Calgary on Christmas Eve goes horribly wrong and is saved by the ghostly presence of a Second World War bomber. It was featured in the December issue of our sister publication COPA Flight and that caught the eye of producers at the CBC.

Every Christmas Eve, the CBC carries a reading of the Shephard by Alan Maitland and producers liked the Canadian twist to the decades-old tradition.

Pittet, who is now a check pilot for a major airline, writes the Expert Pilot column for Canadian Aviator told the CBC in an interview the techncal column is a lot easier than fiction.

The story in reprinted in its entirety at