A B.C. mother whose son died after a 2011 plane crash is pleading for airplanes to be fitted with an inexpensive device that could have saved his life.
Pilots Matt Robic, 26, and Luc Fortin, 44, were at the controls on Oct. 27, 2011, when their twin-engine plane crashed and burned just short of the runway while trying to make an emergency landing at Vancouver airport.
Fortin died within a few hours of the crash, while co-pilot Robic succumbed to his severe burns three weeks later. Their seven passengers survived — some with serious injuries — after scrambling out of the burning Beechcraft King Air plane.
An initial report suggested the fire could have been prevented by a simple kill switch, which cuts power from the battery and stops sparks from igniting spilled fuel.
"You deal with the grieving, with all the things you’ve got to deal with and then you find out the accident was survivable, that there was no reason for him to get burned like that, that was the killer," said Robic's mother, Corinna Robic.
Full of fuel
The NT Air flight from Vancouver to Kelowna had almost a full load of fuel aboard. The pilots turned the flight around about 15 minutes after taking off when an oil indicator light suggested there was a problem with the aircraft and were given permission to return for an emergency landing.
The aircraft crashed on a public road, about 900 metres short of the runway.
The Transportation Safety Board recommended five years ago that all planes install a kill switch — at a cost of a few hundred dollars — that would automatically cut off power on impact,
The TSB's Bill Yearwood agrees the switch might have saved Robic's life.
"It’s easy to conclude this is one way to remove fires or post-crash fires," Yearwood said.
Corinna Robic wrote to the federal minister of transport asking for kill switches to be required.
The ministry did respond in writing, saying it was working to reduce crash fatalities due to fires, but gave no indication it will make the kill switch mandatory.