Report details of in-flight icing on the aircraft prior to the fatal accident

The Transportation Safety Board (TBS) released a report on the crash of a Mooney M20K plane near Springbank in April this year.

READ MORE: More details released after Springbank plane crash

The local return flight had two pilots on board and the purpose of the flight was to familiarize a pilot with the aircraft to then instruct the new owner in British Columbia.

The detailed report states that ice accumulated on the aircraft in flight and the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude due to this fact. After takeoff at 2:27 p.m., at 3:09 p.m. the captain contacted air traffic services and requested a lower altitude because the plane was “picking up some ice.” The aircraft was cleared to descend by air traffic services, with a restriction of at least 6200 feet ASL. The aircraft continued to descend in altitude and at 1518 struck the embankment of a ditch on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Captain Michael James Wilton of Calgary was fatally injured and second place pilot Megan Gallagher was seriously injured.

The report notes that Cochrane RCMP responded to the crash and took several photos of the exterior of the plane. Photos revealed mixed ice buildup on the aft communication antenna, horizontal stabilizer leading edges, and left wing leading edge between 3/4 and 1 inch thick.

Photo of ice accretion on plane that crashed near Cochrane in April 2022. (TSB report)

The TSB report notes: “Ice can form on an aircraft in flight primarily due to 3 processes: supercooled water droplets, freezing of liquid water, or transition from vapor directly to ice. Depending on the process involved and the conditions, these accretions are normally classified into 4 categories: clear ice, rime ice, mixed ice and hoarfrost. All of these types of accretions degrade performance, albeit to varying degrees, and all aircraft are negatively affected when they accumulate ice in flight.”

Data retrieved revealed that the engine was operating normally throughout the flight.

The Transportation Safety Board investigation was “unable to determine with certainty” what weather information the pilots obtained before the flight.

A conclusion was drawn in the report that “pilots should exercise due diligence when checking the weather before a flight by consulting all available weather resources, including NAV CANADA Flight Information Centers, and by reviewing all available weather products, including pilot reports and special weather reports, for the area of ​​the intended flight.”

It was also stated that icing weather conditions are difficult to predict and recommended that “additionally, pilots should treat this situation as an emergency and declare it as such in order to obtain all available assistance”.

The full report from the Transportation Safety Board is available here.

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