'Gimli glider' recalled at trial of pilot in crash
The lawyer for a pilot facing charges in connection with a plane crash in 2002 brought up the famous "Gimli glider" air incident at the trial Thursday.
Mark Tayfel has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death. Tayfel was flying a Piper Navajo operated by Keystone Air that ran out of fuel on a flight from a fishing lodge in northern Manitoba in June 2002.
The plane, with six American fishermen on board, crashed in north Winnipeg, near the intersection of McPhillips Street and Logan Avenue. One passenger died months later of the injuries he sustained.
Defence lawyer Balfour Der cross-examined Joseph Gaudry, an official from Transport Canada, on Thursday morning, asking him if he recalled the case of the "Gimli glider."
In the famous 1983 flight, an Air Canada Boeing 767 ran out of fuel and glided to an abandoned airbase in Gimli, Man. The plane ran out of fuel due to a mistakethat was made when calculating the fuel load.
Der wanted to know if the pilot in that case had been charged.
Gaudry acknowledged the case was well known in his department, but said he didn't know if the pilot of the plane had been found responsible. The case had been handled out of Ottawa and not locally, he said.
Tayfel could have landed the Keystone Air planeat several alternate airfields on the way to Winnipeg, even if it meant breaking certain restrictions on those fields, Gaudry told the court.
In the Gimli case, none of the 61 passengers were injured during the landing, although some sustained minor injuries whileusing the plane's rear emergency slide.
After the landing, the pilot and co-pilot were praised for their quick thinking, but months later, Air Canada disciplined them for allowing the near-tragedy to happen. The pilot was demoted for six months, the co-pilot was suspended for two weeks and three ground workers were also suspended.
A 1985 Transport Canada report blamed the incident on errors and insufficient training and safety procedures.
In the Winnipeg crash landing, the Transportation Safety Board determined the pilot was flying too high and too fast to make a successful landing at the Winnipeg airport. The pilot also miscalculated how much fuel was needed for the flight, officials said.
The TSB's 2003 report on the incidentsaid the pilot didn't tell air traffic controllers about his critical situation soon enough, and the aircraft did not meet regulations for the flight because it did not have an autopilot system.