Montreal

Plane carrying Jean Lapierre flying too high, too fast before crashing, TSB says

The plane that was carrying Jean Lapierre and his family was flying too high and too fast before it crashed on the Magdalen Islands in March, according to preliminary findings by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

TSB investigation reveals plane 'rolled rapidly to the right' when autopilot disconnected before crashing

The small aircraft crashed in a field in Havre-aux-Maison on Quebec's Magdalen Islands, killing journalist Jean Lapierre, 4 family members, and both pilots. (David Noel/Canadian Press via AP)

The plane that was carrying Jean Lapierre and his family was flying too high and too fast before it crashed on the Magdalen Islands in March, according to preliminary findings by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Investigators with the TSB were able to update their findings on the crash after recovering a lightweight data recorder from the The Mitsubishi MU-2B, which was voluntarily installed by the plane's owner. 

The data on the recorder suggests there were two major anomalies with plane's approach to the small island airport. 

"It was quite high and it was quite fast — much higher and faster on the approach than what's recommended by the manufacturer and the training organizations," said Michael Cunningham, who is heading the TSB investigation.

The onboard recording device was left intact after the crash. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

There was no black box on the plane. Investigators were initially concerned about whether the data on the recorder that was installed survived the crash. 

"Luckily for us, after the accident we were able to recover it and it was still in very good condition," said Cunningham.

"These are not built to be crash-worthy like traditional recorders." 

Lapierre, a former federal cabinet minister and popular political commentator, was killed along with four members of his family and the two pilots when the plane went down on March 29.

The wreckage of the plane was loaded onto a flatbed truck on the Magdalen Islands and driven to Ottawa, where it arrived in April. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

Plane went down 'rapidly'

Cunningham said the data also showed the plane "rolled rapidly to the right" when the autopilot was disconnected almost three miles away from the airport. 

"From there it went rapidly down and hit the ground tragically," he said. 

Investigators did not find any mechanical deficiencies with the aircraft. 

The report identified approach-and-landing accidents as "one of the greatest risks to Canada's transportation system."

Cunningham said the TSB and its international counterparts are now "trying to improve awareness about how important it is to fly a stable approach."

Investigation still underway

Investigators are still looking into weather conditions, pilot experience and the approach profile, among other factors.

"We're still in the analysis phase of the investigation so there's still a lot of work to do," Cunningham said.

A final report into the crash is expected to be tabled before April 2017. 

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