Thursday, May 01, 2014

SG Aviation Storm S-280, C-GIQV, Kostam Designs Inc: Calaway Park, Springbank, Alberta - Canada

Officials play blame game after Springbank airplane crash sparks safety concerns

Officials, parents and residents in Springbank are questioning the approval given for a small plane to fly out from the parking lot of Calaway Park given its proximity to two schools after the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff.

A British Columbia pilot, who was working as a contractor for the outdoor amusement park on the western edge of Calgary, was taking off in his Storm S280 when the plane crashed at around 3 p.m. Thursday near the park’s entrance. The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries, but his condition has since been upgraded to stable.

Calaway Park said the man was given authority from Springbank Airport to fly out of the park’s property and called this a “one-off occurrence,” while the airport said it cannot give approval for landings and takeoffs that occur on private property and only has control over planes once they’re in the air.

But some say the plane should never have been allowed to fly out from the park’s property in the first place, citing concerns over the safety of the students who attend Springbank Middle School and Elbow Valley Elementary School, not far from the crash scene.

“I find it unbelievable that it is allowable,” said Jerry Arshinoff, a councillor with Rocky View County. “It’s beyond ridiculous, having planes take off next to schools.”

At first, Arshinoff thought the plane was forced to make a crash landing on Calaway Park property due to an emergency. But when he learned the plane had actually been attempting to take off from the park, he was stunned.

Arshinoff has been living in the area for nearly three decades. All five of his children attended the schools near the park, and the majority of the kids in his neighbourhood still go to those schools. He said this was the first he’d heard of planes landing or taking off from the park.

Since the crash, he has received numerous emails from constituents expressing their concerns.

While he recognizes that airports are the jurisdiction of the federal government, he said he plans to meet with Rocky View administration and fellow councillors, and do some fact-finding to “make sure it never happens again.”

“It’s just inconceivable that Calaway park would’ve allowed such a thing,” he said. “Springbank Airport is very close by ... it’s literally down the road.”

Margaret Bahcheli, reeve of Rocky View County, agreed with Arshinoff.

“I think it’s shocking they were having permission to use space so close to the schools,” said Bahcheli, whose 14-year-old son attends Springbank Middle School.

“That seems extremely unusual. It’s not very sensitive to resident safety, that’s me as a parent.”

Calaway Park declined to comment on whether or why the company approved the flight from its property.

Angela Spanier, spokeswoman for Rocky View Schools, said in an e-mail Saturday that the Springbank parent community had been made aware of the crash and the board “continues to believe the safety of students is paramount.”

“As such, Rocky View Schools will be corresponding with both Transport Canada and Calaway Park to register its concern with this activity and to get assurances that no such activity will be authorized in the future given the proximity to our schools.”

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Injured pilot attempted takeoff from Calaway Park before crash 

CALGARY – We’re learning more details about a pilot seriously injured when his small plane crashed near Calaway Park on Thursday.

39-year-old Steve Kostamo’s two-seater aircraft hit the ground around 3:15 p.m., dangerously close to a nearby school.

He had landed his plane successfully in the parking lot of Calaway Park several weeks before, but crashed the plane on Thursday while attempting his takeoff.

Vice-president of Calaway Park Bev Beanson says Kostamo works as a contractor, and had clearance from the Park and NAV Canada to takeoff from the parking lot. However, some question why that was the case, as the area is close to two schools as well as the Springbank Airport.

 “I’d never heard before today that there were planes coming and going from the parking lot,” says concerned parent Lisa Skelton. “I think if there’s an airport close by with safety precautions and safer distances from businesses, schools and houses, all flight traffic should be in and out of the airport.”

Pilots that Global News spoke with add that landing in a parking lot is never something they would recommend, if there were other options nearby.

“If it’s a non-emergency situation, our students are only told to land at controlled or uncontrolled airports,” says Leon Cygman, assistant chair of Aviation at Mount Royal University.

Kostamo was the only person on board the plane, and suffered life-threatening injuries. His condition has since been upgraded to stable.

The Transportation Safety Board is now investigating.

An afternoon plane crash, west of Calgary, has sent the aircraft's lone occupant to Foothills Hospital.

The single engine plane, a Storm S-280 two seater, crashed shortly after 3:00 p.m. near the access road to Calaway Park.

According to Fire Chief Dax Huba with the Rocky View Fire Department, the impact of the crash tore the aircraft's engine from the fuselage and mangled the body of the plane. Fire crews sprayed a retardant on the wreckage as a precautionary measure.

The remains of a single engine airplane following a crash near the entrance road to Calaway Park

EMS transported the pilot, a 39-year-old man, to hospital in serious, potentially life threatening condition with multiple traumatic injuries.

The vice-president of Calaway Park says the operator of the plane was an experienced pilot who was working at the amusement park as a contractor. The pilot had been taking off and landing his plane in the Calaway Park parking lot throughout his time at the park.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash is underway.

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