Jean-Pierre Forest is pictured in his home near a piece of the plane that he was in when it crashed leaving him with a brain injury in Richmond, British Columbia on March 24, 2016.
Jean-Pierre Forest’s 1,857th skydive ended in disaster.
Mr. Forest was one of eight people on board a Beech King Air when it crashed in a cranberry field in August, 2008, about 400 metres west of Pitt Meadows airport. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada found the left engine failed as the plane climbed, and it ruled that the aircraft had been inadequately maintained. Four of the people on the plane were seriously injured.
Mr. Forest alleges he suffered a brain injury, fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, a broken arm and psychological injuries. His lawsuit against the owner of the aircraft and the Attorney-General of Canada is to be heard in B.C. Supreme Court next week – and Mr. Forest’s lawyer says the case reveals a way in which aircraft operators can potentially bypass federal safety standards.
A former member of the Canadian military, Mr. Forest said in an interview that his life has been forever changed by the crash. He does not remember the plane going down and spent a month in an induced coma.
He said he used to hold a senior position at a firm that specializes in security cameras and surveillance, but he is now working on camera assembly and packaging. “I’m hoping that eventually maybe I’ll get back to another position that’s closer to what I was getting paid,” he said.
The TSB, which released its report in 2009, found the aircraft had been registered in the United States through the Federal Aviation Administration and was operated seasonally in Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because it was registered in the U.S., the aircraft was issued a foreign air operator certificate by Transport Canada.
Joe Fiorante, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Forest, said operating under NAFTA should not mean aircraft in Canada can be held to a lower safety standard.
In its report, the TSB found that the regulatory oversight in place was inadequate because an inspection carried out by the FAA did not identify any of the issues that led to the crash. One of the TSB’s findings was that there could be a risk to passengers if Transport Canada did not verify that holders of foreign air operator certificates met airworthiness and operational requirements.
“That was not the intent of NAFTA. It was to harmonize safety standards, but it wasn’t a race to the bottom,” Mr. Fiorante said in an interview. “... It wasn’t intended to allow Canadians to bypass our own system of aviation regulation.”
The allegations in the case have not been proven.
Mr. Forest’s notice of civil claim says Transport Canada inspected another aircraft owned by the same skydiving company in 2000 and suspended that aircraft’s operating certificate because of safety concerns. The lawsuit says that plane’s engines were well beyond the number of hours they can fly before they must be overhauled. The notice of civil claim alleges the company then turned to the United States and began receiving certificates of authorization from the FAA in 2001.
In a statement, Transport Canada wrote that it is limited in what it can say about the matter since it is before the courts. It noted the TSB report says Transport Canada has taken some action on foreign air operator certificates, including better notification about such operations for regional departments.
Transport Canada said there are currently 33 U.S. air operators with approved foreign air operator certificates “for the conduct of specialty air services in Canada. As seasonal parachuting operations have not yet started in Canada, it is difficult to predict how many applications are likely to be received for 2016,” it said.
The statement of defence filed by the Attorney-General of Canada says NAFTA “allows services to be provided by one free-trade agreement partner to clients in the territory of another.” A NAFTA implementation team reviewed the maintenance and inspection requirements in the U.S. and Canada, it says, and determined “with few exceptions” that the requirements “resulted in an equivalent level of safety.”
The skydiving flight was operated by Pacific Skydivers Ltd. The company was owned by Flanagan Enterprises Inc., which is a defendant in the lawsuit. The owner of Flanagan Enterprises could not be reached for comment.
Original article can be found here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com
Aviation Investigation Report A08P0242: http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca
The Bill Dause Beech 65-A90 King Air (United States registration N17SA, aircraft serial number LJ-164) took off from Pitt Meadows Airport, British Columbia, with the pilot and seven parachutists for a local sky diving flight. At 1521 Pacific daylight time, as the aircraft was climbing through 3900 feet above sea level, the pilot reported an engine failure and turned back towards Pitt Meadows Airport for a landing on Runway 08R. The airport could not be reached and a forced landing was carried out in a cranberry field, 400 metres west of the airport. On touchdown, the aircraft struck an earthen berm, bounced, and struck the terrain again. On its second impact, the left wing dug into the soft peat, spinning the aircraft 180 degrees. Four of the parachutists received serious injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged. There was no fire and the occupants were evacuated. The emergency locator transmitter functioned at impact and was turned off by first responders.
The aircraft was climbing west, away from the Pitt Meadows Airport, at 110 knots when there was a bang. The aircraft shuddered and yawed to the right. The nose was lowered to a level flight attitude, the right engine (a Pratt & Whitney Canada [PWC] PT6A-20) was shut down, and the pilot turned the aircraft left towards Pitt Meadows. The airspeed was indicating 130 knots. The left engine power lever was advanced to maximum, but there was no corresponding rise in torque (power). Left engine torque decreased until all engine power was lost. In an attempt to restart the engines, both engine auto-ignition switches were selected ON. The restart was unsuccessful. The nose was lowered to maintain airspeed, but the airport could not be reached. The aircraft touched down in a flat cranberry field bordered by three-foot-high berms. On landing, the aircraft struck several of the many concrete irrigation culverts that lay on the edge of the berm. The accident site is located adjacent to the Pitt Meadows Airport at 49°13'15" N, 122°43'45" W, at an elevation of about 10 feet above sea level.