A pilot’s decision to attempt to fly nine family members to California despite a heavy snowfall led to the plane crashing in Abbotsford last year, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has found.
The TSB states in a report released today (Wednesday) that the Beechcraft King Air B100 crashed shortly after takeoff on Feb. 23, 2018 because it had been exposed to heavy snowfall for 14 minutes, resulting in “ice contamination” on the wings.
No de-icing or anti-icing fluid was applied to the plane, the TSB stated in its report.
“In this occurrence, the pilot was motivated to complete the flight with his family, and even though there were a number of indications that a different course of action may have been warranted, the pilot elected to continue with the original plan,” the TSB stated.
The TSB said the plane – owned by Island Express Air – experienced difficulties seconds after takeoff from Abbotsford International Airport.
“In an attempt to make an immediate off-field emergency landing, the pilot applied forward pressure on the control column to land the aircraft,” the TSB stated.
The plane then crashed and slid 760 feet into a raspberry field near Walmsley Avenue and Clearbrook Road.
The pilot – who was the owner of Island Express at the time – and five passengers suffered serious injuries. One of them was rendered unconscious and had to be carried out of the aircraft, the report states.
The other four passengers received minor injuries, and the plane was destroyed in the crash.
The TSB said their investigation also found that the pilot and one passenger sustained serious head injuries as a result of not wearing available shoulder harnesses.
The report indicates that the pilot of the plane had begun flying in 1994, and his licence was valid until Sept. 1, 2018.
After the crash, Island Express had its operator certificate suspended, but their certificate was reinstated four months later after what the TSB said was a “robust review of the company’s operations.”
The TSB said that after the crash, the airline changed ownership, made personnel changes, modified procedures and training programs, set higher standards for pilot training, and introduced new operational equipment and processes to improve safety.
Island Express Air continues to offer flights between Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Qualicum Beach.