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Water in Fuel Proves Fatal

Fatal Accident Near St. Andrews, Manitoba

The investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) into the fatal aircraft accident near St. Andrews, Manitoba, on July 11, 1999, is continuing. The following is an excerpt of TSB press release A 15/99.

On the day of the accident, a number of private aircraft were being used to give Girl Guides and Girl Guide leaders, involved in a nearby Girl Guide Jamboree, familiarization flights in the vicinity of Birds Hill Park, Manitoba. One of the aircraft being used for the flights, a privately registered Mooney M20F, departed St. Andrews Airport around 11:20 Central Daylight Time (CDT) with a pilot and three Girl Guide leaders on board.

Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft was seen to enter an abrupt left roll and enter a spin. The aircraft crashed into a residential acreage, about 75 ft. from a house. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured on impact; the third passenger died en route to the hospital.

TSB investigators attended the site and removed the aircraft to a hangar at St. Andrews Airport for detailed examination. Water was found in several areas of the aircraft's fuel system. Corrosion was found in the engine-driven fuel pump and in the fuel filter. The significance of the water and the corrosion has not been determined. A detailed examination of other components of the aircraft's fuel system is underway. There were no anomalies found with the aircraft's flight control systems.

The engine was removed from the aircraft and taken for detailed examination at the TSB regional facility in Winnipeg. Impact damage to the engine precluded a test run, but a thorough examination of the engine and its components showed no pre-impact damage.

The aircraft was equipped with a stall warning system designed to activate if the aircraft approaches an aerodynamic stall. The stall warning horn was removed from the aircraft and also tested at the TSB regional facility. The steady tone produced by the horn during the test was similar to the steady tone recorded on the St. Andrews tower tape during the last radio transmission made by the pilot. The last radio transmission was confined to the establishment of communication with the St. Andrews tower. The tape has been sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa for further analysis.

Air traffic control (ATC) radar tapes have been reviewed. The aircraft was equipped with a transponder; transponder transmissions from the aircraft were recorded on the ATC radar tapes. The recorded transmissions indicate that the aircraft reached an altitude of 1100 ft. above sea level, or 340 ft. above ground level, approximately 45 seconds after takeoff; the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was heard about 10 seconds later. The TSB will issue a report upon completion of its investigation.