Lives put at risk at YLW

UPDATE: 12:47 p.m.

Since Castanet published a report on a Cessna Citation safety issue at YLW earlier this week, we have since learned more about what is being called "a really dumb move on the pilot's behalf, that put lives at risk."

Airline fuelling regulations require pilots to provide precise fuel specifications based on weight, type of aircraft, number of passengers and baggage, plus distance to be travelled. In this case, that formal request was provided and the prescribed amount of fuel was pumped into the Cessna.

Once fuelling was complete, the pilots determined they had made a mistake, but instead of de-fuelling, they chose a risky manoeuvre, much like a burnout in a muscle car, to burn off the excess fuel.

The subsequent overheating caused both tires to blow, and the fire was so hot the landing gear had to be completely replaced. There were seven passengers on board the plane who needed to be evacuated.

Each tire is worth up to $60,000, and the entire cost of the escapade could reach $300,000, sources say.

In addition, the plane sat on the taxiway for almost eight hours before it could be towed into a hangar for repairs.

The Cessna is still being worked on five days later.

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

An incident at Kelowna International Airport has been referred to the Transportation Safety Board after seven passengers had to be escorted off a private plane, Monday.

Castanet has learned the pilot may have been performing a high-risk manoeuvre to avoid having fuel removed from the aircraft.

An airport employee tells Castanet the U.S.-owned Cessna Citation's fuel tanks were filled past the safety cutoff, and instead of calling crews back and emptying the tanks to the prescribed safety level, the pilot revved the engines and applied the brakes as the plane was taxiing to burn off the excess fuel.

The end result was two flat tires, overheated brakes and seven passengers evacuated from the plane as a safety precaution.

YLW airport manager Sam Sammadar said: "This is a rare occurrence, but we do have incidents like this one from time to time – but we do have a safety management system, and it's robust. We always investigate the cause of these kinds of incidents and look at how they can be mitigated in the future."

Sammadar says the TSB has been notified.

Eric Collard with TSB in Gatineau, Que., says staff are looking into the incident, but have not launched a full investigation at this point.

"We are aware of the occurrence and we are gathering information, but it's too early to tell if we're going to be doing a full investigation," he said.

At this point, Collard says this is what they know: "A privately operated, foreign, U.S.-registered Cessna Citation was taxiing for departure. The main brakes were dragging, the brakes overheated and began to smoke, two tires went flat and the local response team responded."

Collard indicated the public can anonymously volunteer information through the TSB website in regards to transportation safety issues.

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