Thursday, August 16, 2012

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche: C-GLGJ: Accident occurred August 13, 2012 near Brenda Mines, about 22 kilometres west of Peachland - Canada

Aviation Investigation Report A12P0136  

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Collision with Terrain
Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche C-GLGJ
Kelowna, British Columbia, 18 nm W
13 August 2012


The privately operated Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche (serial number 30-300, registration C-GLGJ) departed Penticton Airport, British Columbia, at 1432 Pacific Daylight Time on a visual flight rules flight plan during daylight hours, to Boundary Bay; 1 pilot and 3 passengers were on board. The aircraft flew northbound over Okanagan Lake for approximately 20 nautical miles, before turning west into a valley; this was about 14 nautical miles further than planned, due to a lower-than-expected rate of climb. At 1454, an overflying airliner received an emergency locator transmitter signal, which the airliner pilot relayed to the area control centre, and the area control centre relayed to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. The aircraft wreckage was located about 2½ hours later, in a wooded area near the Brenda Mines site, approximately 18 nautical miles west of Kelowna. There was no fire. All 4 occupants were critically injured; 1 occupant died at the site, and a second died in hospital 2 days later.

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Factual information

History of the flight

The first of the 2 flight legs originated at Boundary Bay (CZBB), British Columbia, where the pilot had C-GLGJ's main, auxiliary, and tip tanks filled. Full fuel is 120 U.S. gallons, or 708 pounds, giving the aircraft a flight duration of about 6 hours. The aircraft departed Boundary Bay at 1230 Footnote 1 for Penticton Airport (CYYF), British Columbia, on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan, with the pilot and 1 passenger on board. It arrived in Penticton, about 140 nautical miles (nm) east of Boundary Bay, at 1343, after an air time of 1.2 hours.

The aircraft was on the ground at Penticton for 49 minutes, during which time the pilot phoned the Kamloops flight information centre (FIC) to file a VFR flight plan for the return flight. The flight plan stated the intended route as Penticton to Boundary Bay via Princeton and Hope. With the headwind component considered, the return flight would have taken approximately 1.4 hours. The FIC. The FIC agent advised of a recent pilot report that described visibility in the Princeton area as 2 nm in haze, and asked the occurrence pilot if visibility on the flight to Penticton had been hazy in that area. The pilot confirmed it had been.

Two more persons boarded the aircraft with their baggage. Immediately before departure, the pilot advised the Penticton Flight Service Station (FSS) of the intention to depart on Runway 34 and climb to 5000 feet above sea level (asl), before turning westbound for Boundary Bay. After take-off from Penticton Airport, the pilot observed that the aircraft's climb rate was significantly lower than it had been 2 days earlier, when it had departed Penticton with only 2 persons on board. Consequently, the pilot did not turn west onto the published VFR route approximately 6 nm north of Penticton (the route taken on the previous flight from Penticton to Boundary Bay), but instead flew approximately 20 nm north, before turning west near Peachland (Figure 1).

It is not known what altitude C-GLGJ reached before it turned west toward rising mountainous terrain, but the aircraft did not appear on radar. Radar had identified other aircraft in that area as low as 4000 feet asl. After turning west, the aircraft proceeded up the Trepanier Creek valley following Highway 97C (also known as the Okanagan Connector) for about 10 nm, before it crashed at 4595 feet asl into a level, treed area on the Brenda Mines tailings dam.

A driver on Highway 97C reported seeing the accident aircraft about 2 nm down-valley from the accident site, climbing slowly toward the tailings dam at roughly the same altitude as the accident site. The driver also reported poor visibility in the area due to smoke.

An airliner flying overhead of the accident site received a 121.5 megahertz (MHz) emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal, which it reported to the Vancouver Area Control Centre (ACC). The ACC notified Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, which dispatched search-and-rescue personnel, who air-dropped to the site at 1731. One occupant was found deceased at the accident site. The 3 critically injured occupants were transported by helicopter to hospital, where a second occupant later died.

NTSB Identification: ANC12WA087 
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Monday, August 13, 2012 in Kelowna, Canada
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: C-GLGJ
Injuries: 1 Fatal,3 Serious.

On August 13, 2012, about 1729 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-30 airplane, (Canadian Registration C-GLGJ) was on a VFR flight plan from Penticton to Boundary Bay, British Columbia. The Canadian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received an ELT signal, and a search was commenced. The aircraft had crashed in a wooded area near the Brenda Lake mine site, approximately 18 nm west of Kelowna, BC. One of the occupants was deceased, and the other three were transported to the hospital with critical injuries.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Canadian government. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Canadian government. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Hull, Quebec K1A 1K8

Tel.: (1) 819-994-4252
(1) 819-997-7887 (24 hour)
Fax: (1) 819-953-9586

Friends said Jayson Dallas Wesley Smith and Lauren Sewell were a good match. On Thursday, the BC Coroners Service confirmed both were killed in a plane crash near Kelowna Monday. 

Jayson Dallas Wesley Smith

Lauren Sewell, 24, was enrolled in BCIT's first-year human resources program.


 A second fatality in this week's plane crash near Kelowna has been identified as 24-year-old Lauren Patricia Sewell, a Vancouver resident originally from South Surrey.

B.C.'s chief coroner announced Thursday morning that Sewell died in hospital the day after a four-seat Piper Twin Commanche crashed 30 kilometres west of Kelowna Monday afternoon.

She was the girlfriend of 30-year-old Jayson Dallas Wesley Smith, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Smith was a Vancouver resident who grew up in the White Rock area.

Two survivors of the crash reportedly remain in hospitals in Kamloops and Vancouver in critical condition. Their identities have not yet been released.

According to an employee of the company listed as a registered owner of the airplane, Maplewood Landscaping in Delta, one survivor is a family member of one of the business owners.

In her Thursday statement, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said that with the consent of her family, Sewell became an organ donor.

"The BC Coroners Service commends the family for the generosity of their decision in a time of immense grief," Lapointe said.

Friends of Smith and Sewell said the two became a couple after Smith returned from a nearly year-long trip around the world in 2011.

Alexis Bennett, a long-time friend of Smith, described Sewell a "super-nice girl."

"She was a good fit for Dallas because she was so calm and centered."

When Smith turned 30 on June 30, Sewell bought him flying lessons as a birthday present.

It isn't clear whether the flight they were on was part of the gift.

Sewell attended Elgin Park Secondary school in South Surrey, while Smith went to Semiahmoo Secondary.

Even though each moved to Vancouver after finishing high school, they made regular trips back to the Peninsula to visit, friends said.

On Tuesday, friends held an informal memorial get-together for Smith, remembered as an avid outdoorsman and traveller who possessed great personal charm.

As well, friends and family of Dallas Smith have established a memorial fund in his memory. Donations can be made to the account "Pamela Smith in trust" at any branch of the Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash, and has appealed for witnesses.

The wreckage has been removed from the site and the next phase is a detailed examination of the evidence, said TSB investigator Bill Yearwood, noting all parts of the plane have been accounted for.

That's not always the case with crashes of this kind, Yearwood said. The plane had a full gas tank and the impact could easily have sparked an evidence-destroying fire, as was the case with a floatplane crash in the same area four months ago.

In Monday's crash, the plane was found in a treed area not far from a large clearing on the Brenda Mines site, a few kilometres beyond the Brenda Mines turnoff.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria was first notified that the flight had gone down around 3 p.m. when an emergency beacon was triggered by the impact. The pilot had not placed a distress call.

A Buffalo search and rescue plane located the crash site by 5 p.m. Rescuers parachuted into the scene to find the plane in pieces and only one person still conscious.

Yearwood said there is little information so far to determine what the pilot was attempting to do.

"We're hoping to find people who may have seen the flight go down," said Yearwood. "We only have one person who thinks they may have seen the flight in its last moments."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the TSB at 604-666-5826.

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