de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver float plane, not one from crash. Image Credit: A Wikimedia Commons

TSB blames optical illusion for plane crash

TSB blames optical illusion and unsecured cargo for 2016 fatal plane crash near Prince George

The fatal crash of a small float plane in central British Columbia was partly the result of an optical illusion associated with low-altitude flights, as well as overweight and improperly secured cargo, the Transportation Safety Board says.

A pilot died and two of four passengers were seriously injured when the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver float plane went down during a hunting expedition in October 2016 near Laidman Lake, about 150 kilometres southwest of Prince George.

The board’s report describes how the aircraft was more than 300 kilograms over its maximum allowable weight, and because the cargo was unsecured, it hit the rear passenger seats when the plane crashed.

RELATED: Coroner releases name of victim from Monday’s plane crash

The report also says the pilot likely misjudged how close the plane was to the ground because of an optical illusion associated with flying under an overcast sky and over snow-covered vegetation, causing the aircraft to stall when the pilot tried to avoid hitting the hillside.

“The lack of features to provide scale in the snow-covered terrain, together with the minimal contrast among the dense trees given the diffuse light conditions, likely disguised the upsloping terrain and the actual horizon,” the report says.

“As the slope steepened, the perceived horizon would have moved upward in the windscreen, and the pilot may have pitched the aircraft up to maintain a constant angle between the pilot’s reference point on the aircraft and the rising terrain.”

The two other passengers on board suffered minor injuries during the crash.

The Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all DHC-2 aircraft that operate commercially in Canada be equipped with a system that would issue a warning as an aircraft is about to stall.

“It is reasonable to conclude that the absence of a stall-warning system deprived the pilot of the last line of defence against an aerodynamic stall and the subsequent loss of control of the aircraft.”

The agency says this recommendation would not have helped in this incident because the aircraft was privately operated, but it underscores the benefits of a stall-warning system.

The Transportation Safety Board investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation incidents and its purpose is to improve transportation safety, not attribute blame or find fault.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials holds annual open house

Pam and Tom Erikson have 17th annual charitable fundraiser at their private Langley garden

VIDEO: Open-to-all sprinter event for dogs comes to Langley

The second event of its kind in Canada since new rules were implemented

VIDEO: Riding against MS in Langley

MS Bike — Fraser Valley Experience collects more than $140,000

VIDEO: Langley City legendary water fight was a soaking good time

And perfectly timed for a hot weather warning

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read