Lessons learned from a light plane crash that killed two people and injured two others in a wooded area 18 km west of Kelowna may help pilots take the route more safely in the future.
The Transportation Safety Board revealed Wednesday that the Aug. 13 2012 crash was caused by excess weight combined with reduced climb rate and engine power, but new information being offered to pilots flying the same route could help circumvent future fatalities.
NAV CANADA and Transport Canada have added information on recommended altitudes when departing the Okanagan Valley and suggest flying routes between Princeton, Brenda Mines, highway 97C and Okanagan Lake.
As well, a new sign was installed at the Penticton Airport advising pilots to climb to 5,000 feet prior to turning west or east when departing the Okanagan Valley
Had the Piper privately-operated Piper Twin Comanche, which crashed Aug. 13 2012 near Brenda Mines, been able to reach that altitude after they left Penticton Airport at 2:32 p.m. its fate may have been different.
“It took a northbound path over Okanagan Lake for approximately 20 nautical miles before turning west into a valley,” read the report from the TSB.
“This was about 14 nautical miles further than planned due to a lower than expected rate of climb.”
The reduced rate of climb was attributed to atmospheric conditions, the aircraft being over its gross takeoff weight, reduced power in the right engine, and the decision not to use available turbochargers.
The investigation also determined that the safety of passengers could have been improved if the aircraft had been equipped with shoulder harnesses to complement the available lap belts.
Investiagors established that the risk of a post-crash fire was reduced because the aircraft battery had disconnected during the crash, thereby removing a potential ignition source for the remaining aviation fuel.