Probe finds plane that crashed, killing five people, was overloaded

EDMONTON — A company plane that crashed last year in Alberta, killing five people, was overloaded and not properly maintained, says a report by the Transportation Safety Board.

EDMONTON — A company plane that crashed last year in Alberta, killing five people, was overloaded and not properly maintained, says a report by the Transportation Safety Board.

The aircraft, owned by A.D. Williams Engineering, crashed on March 28, 2008, near Wainwright.

Company president Reagan Williams, who piloted the single-engine Piper Malibu, his two senior employees and two contractors all died.

Williams held commercial and private pilot licences and regularly flew the firm’s aircraft, but he had not trained for possible instrument failure since 2001, the board found.

“Such skills deteriorate over time if not exercised.”

The key factor in the crash was the failure of the gyro instrument that helped stabilize the aircraft while it was being flown in autopilot mode, says the report.

Just prior to the flight, the instrument had been removed and checked, but was reinstalled “without the benefit of the recommended overhaul.”

The report concludes the autopilot became “unusable” when the gyro failed, so the pilot was forced to take control of the plane.

But the pilot had not practised flying manually without all of his instruments and lost control of the aircraft.

Williams didn’t reduce his air speed, which might have allowed him to regain control of the aircraft, the board adds.

The plane went into a high-speed nosedive and broke into pieces because “the structural limitations of the aircraft were exceeded.”

The investigation found several deficiencies, including that the aircraft was more than 400 kilograms over its weight limit at takeoff.

“During the pilot’s upgrade training and on the safety seminars he had attended, the issues of weight and balance were emphasized as concerns with this particular model of aircraft,” says the report.

The agency raised concerns about high-performance aircraft being flown by a single pilot.

“There is a risk that this type of accident will be repeated,” says the report.

“The likelihood of a pilot being overwhelmed by the complexity of this situation and becoming task-saturated is significant.”

It says similar crashes could be prevented if there are instruments to back up those which could fail, and if pilots practise their skills.

The report also notes that the company that was maintaining the plane “did not have the approval to maintain PA-46 turbine aircraft.”

The report also found a number of problems with the company that owned the aircraft, including a lack of safety checks.

“The company did not conduct an annual risk assessment,” says the report. “The hazards should have been identified and the associated risks mitigated.”

Naseem Bashir, the current president of Williams Engineering, was flying to Winnipeg on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

The agency that oversees safety management of such aircraft was also faulted in the crash report.

“The Canadian Business Aviation Association audit did not identify the risks in the company’s operations,” says the report.

“If the effective oversight … is not exercised by the regulator or its delegated organization, there is increased risk that safety deficiencies will not be identified and properly addressed.”

Other problems found during the investigation include no pilot records, no quick-donning oxygen masks, no records of weight and balance and unapproved maintenance.

It was the second fatal crash involving an aircraft owned by the Edmonton-based engineering firm. In October 2008, company founder Allen Williams — Reagan’s father — and a senior executive died in a crash near Golden, B.C., although Williams’s three-year-old granddaughter miraculously survived.

Just Posted

Chemical analysis may provide clues to cause of huge Red Deer industrial fire

Fire on April 17 caused $9 million in damage to oil and gas industrial building

New loonie reason to celebrate and educate: central Alberta LGBTQ community

The new LGBTQ2 loonie is a conversation starter and a reason to… Continue reading

C & E Trail property owner wants to use land as RV storage yard

Red Deer city council gives initial approval

Indigenous cultural centre needed in Red Deer

Urban Aboriginal Voices Society hosts annual community gathering

Red Deer youth recognized for his compassion

Blackfalds man dies after vehicle collision

MISSING: Joshua Arthur Sanford

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Family: A potpourri of Easter egg hunts, music and politics

The election is a thing of the past. Albertans have spoken. They… Continue reading

Most Read