Was pilot disoriented?

UPDATE: 9:49 a.m.

Explaining the phenomenon of spatial disorientation, TSB chair Kathy Fox stopped short of assigning pilot error in the fatal crash.

"What we're really talking about is human performance," she said.

Fox said even veteran pilots can become disoriented.

"We don't assign blame or criminal responsibility," she added... "and we're not going to speculate."

She said such disorientation can happen day or night when flying through cloud.

It can give pilots the feeling of tumbling backwards or vertigo and cause them to push forward on the controls in the belief they are straightening out their flight.

Those with limited night flying experience can be more susceptible, she added.

In such instances, pilots must rely on their instruments.

"It's about knowledge, awareness and recent experience."

UPDATE: 9:36 a.m.

Asked how confident the TSB is of its findings in the fatal crash of the Cessna Citation after its takeoff from Kelowna International Airport in 2016, lead investigator Beverley Harvey says spatial disorientation is a "plausible, likely scenario."

She said it is "very frustrating" to not be able to give the families of the deceased a definitive answer.

TSB chair Kathy Fox reiterated her call for mandatory onboard recording devices, saying: "If we don't know what happened and why, then those affected by these decisions don't know what action to take."

UPDATE: 9:28 a.m.

TSB chair Kathy Fox say the company that owned the crashed Cessna Citation did not have operational approval to fly the aircraft with a single pilot.

"We have no record of any application to Transport Canada for single-pilot operation of that aircraft," she told a news conference in Calgary this morning.

The ill-fated jet was owned by Norjet Inc. of Calgary.

She added that the pilot must have at least five nighttime takeoffs in the past six months to comply with regulations for carrying passengers at night.

UPDATE: 9:20 a.m.

"We don't like to say we don't know" – Transportation Safety Board chair Kathy Fox.

UPDATE: 9:15 a.m.

Lead TSB investigator Beverley Harvey says the pilot of the ill-fated flight may have experienced spatial disorientation following takeoff from Kelowna International Airport.

Pilot Jim Kruk had only two nighttime takeoffs on record in the six months prior to the tragic crash on Oct. 13, 2016, which did not meet Transport Canada requirements for carrying passengers.

Harvey says radar data shows the Cessna Citation showed rapid changes in its rate of climb after taking off from YLW at 9:32 p.m. that night.

Those changes happened over the course of 30 seconds, and the plane experienced a 20-degree change in attitude prior to crashing to the ground east of Wood Lake.

With the benefit onboard recording devices, "all we can do is develop a likely scenario," she said.

"There is not enough information to establish anything definitive."

UPDATE: 9:10 a.m.

TSB chair Kathy Fox says there are not enough facts for definitive answers in the 2016 crash of a Cessna Citation crash that killed four people after taking off from Kelowna.

Investigators combed through wreckage, radar data, company and personnel records, but are "not much closer to knowing with certainty what happened."

The aircraft was not required to have an onboard flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder.

Fox called on Transport Canada to mandate installation of the recorders in all aircraft currently not required to do so.

"This scenario simply doesn't have enough facts to be definitive" with answer to what caused the crash, she said.

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

The Transportation Safety Board is set to reveal its findings this morning from the investigation into 2016's deadly plane crash east of Lake Country that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice and three others.

The TSB is holding a press conference at Calgary's Metropolitan Conference Centre at 10 a.m. Alberta time (9 a.m. local), and Castanet will be there.

Reporter Nich Johansen is in Calgary for the event, and Castanet will be live streaming from the press conference. We'll also have one on one time with the investigators to bring you all the details of the investigation.

On the evening of Oct. 13, the Cessna 500 Citation took off from Kelowna International Airport, but it crash landed just 11 kilometres north of the airport, east of Wood Lake abut 30 minutes after takeoff. 

The Cessna Citation 500 is a turbofan-powered, small-sized business jet. There was no cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder onboard the plane, which made the investigation “particularly challenging,” according to the TSB. No emergency or distress calls were made prior to the crash.

Pilot Jim Kruk, Sheldon Reid, and Ken Gellatly died in the crash, along with Prentice.

The crash wreckage was examined for a week in the field, followed by examination in a lab.

Beverley Harvey, the lead investigator on the case, has 30 years of civil aviation experience, and has participated in several TSB investigations.

Following the tragedy, the TSB called for expanded requirements for cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders on private aircraft.

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