After Canadian Crash, Court Attacks Airline Culture

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Mark Tayfel managed a relatively safe landing on a public street in Winnipeg with both engines out that was, said one man, "an absolute miracle," according to Canada.com. Unfortunately, Tayfel had initiated the flight with six passengers aboard and without enough fuel to reach its destination, and one of Tayfel's passengers, 79-year-old Chester Jones, died of his injuries a few weeks after the crash. The trial regarding the 2002 crash apparently convinced the judge that a "culture" within the airline industry "pressures young pilots to break the law." Justice Holly Beard last week sentenced Tayfel to 240 hours of community service and a curfew. "It's clear the failure to follow aeronautics regulations is very prevalent," said Justice Beard while delivering Tayfel's sentence. And she would not lay blame for that culture squarely on Tayfel.

Prosecuting attorney Brian Wilford had argued that Tayfel had acted recklessly in his initiation of the flight and did not communicate the aircraft's condition until it was too late. Defense lawyer Balfour Der argued that Tayfel had not set out to endanger himself or his passengers and could better serve the community by preaching of his mistake to student pilots. Der noted that Keystone Air, Tayfel's employer, did not appear in court in support of his defense and that the company should have been held liable. Tayfel's former boss George Riopka did comment on the outcome of the trial, however, saying the judge's characterization of airline culture is outmoded. "That culture they're talking about is a dying breed in my eyes. There's very little of that in the aviation industry today from what I've seen," he told The Globe and Mail.