TSB Finds Communications Breakdown In Runway Accident

The Transportation Safety Board says a communications breakdown led to the tragic accident that killed a young woman on a lawn tractor at a private airport near Montreal last summer. A Nanchang CJ6 landing on the rough runway at St-Esprit Aerodrome hit the lawn tractor with its right wing as the machine crossed the runway on July 5, 2021. The aerodrome is owned by Parachute Montreal and is used exclusively by the skydiving club and its Twin Otter. It’s a PPR (prior permission required) airport.

The TSB said a longstanding agreement with the grass maintenance contractors at the airport was that the mowers could only be on the field when the Twin Otter was on the ground. On that day, the pilot of the Nanchang, who also flew the club’s Twin Otter, was intending to land for lunch at the aerodrome but did not get prior permission. Instead, he raised the Twin Otter pilot on the radio and the two worked out separation for landing at the field. The Twin Otter landed first, the lawn mower operator went to work and the Nanchang collided with the tractor on the edge of the runway at about the half way mark.

“This accident highlights how important it is for pilots to obtain permission to use an aerodrome when prior permission is required, so that aerodrome operators can coordinate the various activities taking place at the aerodrome, to ensure that the activities are carried out safely,” the report said. “In addition, individuals working near a runway must remain vigilant and continually scan the runway and its 2 approaches before entering or crossing it.”