Crashed plane overweight

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has found a fatal float plane crash in Northern B.C. was caused by an overloaded aircraft and optical illusions associated with low-altitude flight in snow-covered, sloping terrain.

The de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver aircraft crashed near Laidman Lake on Oct. 10, 2016 after departing from the Vanderhoof airport, killing the pilot and injuring all four passengers. 

As the aircraft was nearing its destination at Laidman Lake, the pilot turned the aircraft to fly over a mining exploration site located on higher terrain east of the lake. Laidman Lake is in deep wilderness about 75 km north of Anahim Lake. 

“The aircraft continued to fly at a constant altitude over the rising terrain for about four minutes until it was just about 100 feet above the trees,” the TSB report states.

To correct, the pilot banked the plane steeply to the left toward lower terrain. The aircraft rolled, then struck the trees and ground.

An investigation found the aircraft was 682 pounds overweight, its cargo was not secured, and its centre of gravity exceeded the aft limit by 3.1 inches.

Unsecured cargo also resulted in injuries to passengers during impact.

Snow-covered mountains and a high overcast ceiling may have contributed to optical illusions that could have put the pilot so close to the treetops in the first place.

The TSB also noted the plane did not have a stall warning system. The Board recommended in 2017 that all commercial DHC-2 aircraft be equipped with such a system.

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