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Lack of recent experience flying 'partial panel' aircraft key to fatal 2019 Whati crash: TSB

Faulty equipment and a lack of recent experience flying a 'partial panel' aircraft were key factors in a fatal 2019 plane crash near Whati, N.W.T., according to a final report released Monday by the Transportation Safety Board.

Final TSB report says that faulty attitude indicators, lack of experience led to January 2019 crash

From left, pilots Will Hayworth and Zach McKillop. The two young pilots were killed in a Jan. 30, 2019 plane crash. (Will Hayworth/Facebook and Zach McKillop/Facebook)

Faulty equipment and a lack of recent experience flying a "partial panel" aircraft were key factors in a fatal 2019 plane crash near Whati, N.W.T., according to a final report released Monday by the Transportation Safety Board.

On Jan. 30, 2019, pilots Will Hayworth and Zach McKillop died after their King Air 200, operated by Air Tindi, crashed near Whati. The flight left Yellowknife and was destined for Whati.

Hayworth and McKillop were the only people on board the flight.

Initial investigations led the Transportation Safety Board to indicate that the failure of the plane's attitude indicators — a vital piece of equipment that tells the pilot where the aircraft is relative to the Earth's horizon — could be a key factor in the crash.

The attitude indicator on the plane's right side was revealed at the time to not have been working at takeoff, while the other failed mid-flight. Investigators were able to recover a voice recorder from the plane that they believed would shed light on why the decision was made to fly with the faulty indicator.

Pilots expected faulty equipment to work again mid-flight

That investigation ultimately revealed that the pilots expected the right side indicator to become operational during the flight, leading them to take off with only the left side indicator operating. 

"Before starting their descent to Whatì Airport, the crew attempted to troubleshoot the still faulty right-side attitude indicator, but was not successful," a news release from the Transportation Safety Board reads. "During the descent, for undetermined reasons, the left-side attitude indicator also failed."

The recovered voice recorder from the crash. The recorder indicated that Hayworth and McKillop took off without a working right-side attitude indicator because they believed it would become operational again during the flight. (Submitted by the Transportation Safety Board)

With both indicators not working, the flight's captain — the report does not indicate which of the pilots was captaining the plane — attempted to fly using "partial panel" techniques, meaning that he did not have use of some key flight instruments.

"The captain did not have recent experience in flying partial panel and, as a result, the remaining instruments were not used effectively and the aircraft departed controlled flight and entered a spiral dive," the news release reads.  

"The flight crew was unable to recover control of the aircraft in enough time and with enough altitude to avoid an impact with terrain."

Company installed 3rd attitude indicator in aircraft

According to the release, the investigation determined that the crew did not effectively manage the risk associated with flying with a faulty attitude indicator. 

"Crew resource management was also not effective and resulted in a breakdown in verbal communication, loss of situation awareness, and the aircraft entering an unsafe condition," the news release reads.

Following the incident, according to the release, Air Tindi conducted an internal safety investigation and ultimately installed a third attitude indicator in all aircraft that didn't already have one.

The company also "standardized and labelled power supplies for all attitude indicators in the company's King Air fleet; established life limits on all attitude indicators in company aircraft; and amended its training programs," the release states.

Clarifications

  • This article has been clarified to explain that the Transportation Safety Board found that a lack of recent experience flying a "partial panel" aircraft was a factor in the 2019 Air Tindi plane crash near Whati, N.W.T.
    Apr 27, 2020 1:42 PM CT

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