De Havilland Beaver - Controlled Flight into Terrain
The de Havilland DHC-2 MK 1 amphibious floatplane departed Okanagan Lake, near Kelowna, for a daytime flight under visual flight rules to Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. The flight was carrying one pilot and 2 passengers. While enroute, the aircraft struck trees and collided with terrain close to and 100 feet below the level of Highway 97C, near the Brenda Mines tailings hill. Most of the aircraft was consumed by a post impact fire. The 3 occupants were fatally injured.
There were no witnesses to the crash however the Emergency Locator Transmitter activated on impact and smoke was observed by motorists on the nearby highway who called emergency response agencies.
It was determined that the aircraft was certified, equipped, and maintained in accordance with existing regulations and approved procedures. Investigators were also able to determine that the aircraft engines was producing power at the time of the impact and that mechanical failure or flight outside the operating envelope of the aircraft was not a likely factor.
There was no indication that an aircraft system malfunction contributed to this accident. There were no dramatic changes in the aircraft’s flight path, and no emergency calls from the pilot to indicate that an in-flight emergency was experienced. The constant ground speed and flight path would also suggest that the aircraft was under the control of the pilot.
The aircraft was not equipped with onboard recorders and due to the post-crash fire, there was not a significant amount of information to be gained by the subsequent analysis of the aircraft’s flight and engine instruments.
The pilot was certified and qualified for the flight in accordance with existing regulations. An experienced Beaver pilot had given the accident pilot 12 hours of dual instruction during the winter and spring of 2012, all at sea level. The accident pilot had accumulated a total of approximately 50 hours in the accident aircraft, and approximately 420 hours of total flight time.
As a result of the investigation is was discovered that the aircraft’s performance was limited by weight and density altitude. Meteorologically, there was evidence of some down-flowing air. At the same time, the pilot’s vision was likely impaired by the sun, and the pilot may have been exposed to visual illusions. These were factors that contributed to the pilot not noticing the rising terrain, and colliding with it.