Icing, pilot decision-making causes for plane crash at Abbotsford, safety board says

RICHMOND, B.C. — The Transportation Safety Board says ice on the wings and pilot decision-making contributed to the crash 18 months ago of a Beechcraft King Air at the airport in Abbotsford, B.C.

The pilot and five passengers were seriously injured, while four others received minor injuries when the plane crashed seconds after taking off for a trip to California.

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The board's report released Wednesday says the plane had been sitting in a warm hangar and was then exposed to heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures for 14 minutes, creating an ideal situation for icing to occur.

"Although no de-icing fluid had been applied to the occurrence aircraft, the conditions present on that day exceeded the capabilities of all types of de-icing or anti-icing fluid in heavy snow," the board's report concludes.

The report says the pilot wanted to take off because his family was on the flight and even though there were a number of indications that the plane shouldn't leave the ground, he decided to continue.

"On the morning of the occurrence, the telephone conversations with Abbotsford air traffic control indicated that the pilot was concerned about the heavy snow and the potential implications of any delays getting airborne," the report says.

While the pilot recognized the issues, the report says he didn't alter his plans.

The report says the aircraft wasn't airworthy at the time of the crash.

The pilot and a passenger in the crew seat weren't wearing the available shoulder harness and both sustained serious head injuries during impact.

The cargo restraint system used to secure the baggage in the back compartment also failed, causing some of the bags to injure passengers seated in the back of the cabin.

The plane's owner, Island Express Air Inc., voluntarily suspended operations after the crash and Transport Canada suspended the company's operating certificates until it underwent a recertification.

The TSB says Island Express has since changed ownership, made personnel changes, modified its procedures and training programs, and introduced new operational equipment and processes to improve safety.

Transport Canada reinstated the operating certificate for Island Express in June 2018.

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