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TSB Urges Collision Avoidance

Drawing shows the collision sequence in a fatal collision near Fort McMurray.
Drawing shows the collision sequence in a fatal collision near Fort McMurray.

The Transportation Safety Board has renewed calls for collision avoidance systems for light aircraft after a highly publicized mid-air collision near Fort McMurray in June, 2015.

Video of the Cessna 185 floatplane involved in the collision landing safely on the grass at the Fort McMurray Airport went viral but the deaths of a flight instructor and student in the 172 involved darkened that result.

The instructor, Nabeel Chaudhry, 33, of McMurray Aviation and student Amjed Ahmed, 32, died after their 172 was T-boned by the 185 in the practice area northeast of the airport.

The floats of the 185 sheared off the left wing of the 172 before plunging through the cabin and empennage. The impact dislodged both floats and the left one came off entirely. The famous video showed the unidentified floatplane pilot safely setting the crippled aircraft on the grass midfield at Fort McMurray.

The TSB says the accident highlights the limitations of “see and avoid” collision prevention particularly when pilot workload is high. The 185 pilot was in contact with air traffic control and setting up for landing while the student and instructor were practicing climbing turns.

Investigators found the cause of the accident was the pilots’ inability to see each other’s aircraft.

“If visual flight rules aircraft are not equipped with aircraft collision avoidance systems, it is highly likely that accidents will continue to occur due to the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid technique of collision avoidance,” the TSB found.

BA Diversion Mystery Deepens

A British Airways A380 diverted to Vancouver Monday.
A British Airways A380 diverted to Vancouver Monday.

Authorities are investigating why a British Airways A380 diverted more than 1,000 miles to Vancouver on Monday night and the entire crew left 400 puzzled passengers in the aircraft while they checked in at hospitals.

It’s now been confirmed that all 25 crew members on the super jumbo were the first to leave the aircraft at the gate in Vancouver and most of them walked into emergency wards pulling their baggage.

The aircraft was on a flight from San Francisco to London and was over Saskatoon when a pilot reported to air traffic control that there was some sort of medical problem on board. He initially asked to land in Calgary but then went to Vancouver in a diversion lasting more than two hours.

The airline has shed little light on the strange series of events but the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which has apparently ruled out any sort of smoke or fume-related issues.

In an email to a British journalist, CAA Chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said there was no smoke and all but ruled out involvement of bleed air.

“Initial reports indicate that the event was highly localised within the aircraft (hence only some cabin crew affected and not the passengers),” the email read.

Meanwhile, the passengers were taken to local hotels and most only got a few hours of sleep before heading back to the airport to arrange for another flight. Many were critical of the lack of information from the airline and the apparent abandonment of the aircraft by the crew.

The airplane was cleared for flight and deadheaded back to London on Wednesday.

Porter Dials Back Expansion

Porter Airlines is adding three Q400s.
Porter Airlines is adding three Q400s.

On the tenth anniversary of its disruptive entry to the Central Canada airline market, Porter Airlines is looking at modest growth with an emphasis on existing markets.

By now, CEO Robert Deluce had hoped to have approval to fly Bombardier CSeries jets from Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto but last November’s federal election at the very least postponed that plan. Shortly after the election, new Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced there would be no changes to operations at the airport, which now bans all jets except air ambulances.

“We’ve kept our CSeries conditional order in place, leaving those deposits with Bombardier. Don’t read too much into that,” Deluce told the Toronto Star.

“We’ll wait until there is a better climate to talk about CSeries in the future, if that opportunity presents itself,” he said.

Deluce said he’s buying three more Q400s, bringing the fleet to 29. He owns the airplanes outright thanks to the sale of the terminal building, which he also owned outright.

The new aircraft will add maintenance flexibility and more capacity at peak times but there will be no route expansion.

“Our growth now is in a different form, and it will work well,” Deluce said. “It’s slower growth. But it’s good growth.”

The new owners of the terminal are expanding it by 27,000 square feet adding retail space, food and beverage service and bigger lounges.

 We Can’t Count

There are 16 airplanes in the formation. Ken Lin Photo.
There are 16 airplanes in the formation. Ken Lin Photo.

That beautiful photo of the Snowbirds, Breitling Jet Team and the Canadian Forces CF-18 demo plane flying in formation over Lake Ontario that we featured last week had an error in the accompanying story.

The story said there were 15 aircraft in the formation but there were 16 (we know because we counted).

However, it did give us a chance to rerun the beautiful picture shot by Canadian Aviator contributor Ken Lin and to make the video of the event shot by Snowbird 3 Maciej Hatta our video of the week.