Risks of night flying in areas with limited lighting highlighted in November 2015 fatal collision with terrain near Parry Sound, Ontario
Richmond Hill, Ontario, 12 July 2017 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A15O0188) into a fatal collision with terrain involving a privately operated Cessna 182 near Parry Sound, Ontario. This investigation emphasizes the risks of flying at night in areas with limited cultural and ambient lighting, as well as without adequate instrument flying proficiency.
On 9 November 2015, a privately operated Cessna 182 with one pilot and one passenger aboard, departed from the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport, Ontario, for a night visual flight rules (VFR) flight to Tillsonburg, Ontario. Once airborne, the aircraft immediately started a right climbing turn, which then became a descending turn before colliding with terrain. The two occupants were fatally injured and a post-impact fire destroyed the aircraft.
The investigation determined that it is likely that the pilot did not adequately assess the hazards associated with a night VFR departure from an airport with limited cultural and ambient lighting. In heavily populated areas, it may be easy for pilots to maintain visual reference to the surface using cultural lighting, such as street and building lights. However, flights are often conducted in remote locations of Canada, where there may be little to no cultural lighting available to help pilots maintain visual reference to the surface. The pilot, who was likely not proficient at flying with reference to instruments, may have become disoriented after losing visual reference to the ground and lost control of the aircraft.
The report highlights several risk factors related to VFR night flying. If current regulations do not clearly define what is meant by visual reference to the surface, night flights may be conducted with inadequate visual references, increasing the risk of accidents. The Board previously made a recommendation (A16-08) calling for Transport Canada (TC) to amend the regulations to clearly define the visual references required for night VFR flying. TC has responded that it will conduct safety promotion/education activities, which will be followed in 2017 by a regulatory amendment project. The Board has assessed TC's response to this recommendation as Satisfactory Intent.
See the investigation page for more information.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
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Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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