Copycat Suicide Eyed In Cargo Crash

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Copycat suicide is one of three scenarios being considered by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board in the 2015 crash of a cargo aircraft with a drunk pilot in the left seat. The TSB report on the April 13, 2015, crash of the Carson Air Metroliner in the mountains north of Vancouver says radar tracks show the aircraft climbed normally on its way to Prince George after a 7 a.m. takeoff. Six minutes into the flight the Metro suddenly went into a vertical dive and broke apart in the air. It killed Capt. Robert Brandt, 34, and his first officer, Andrew Wang, 32.

Brandt had a blood alcohol level of .24 but Wang was clear of intoxicating substances. The report says pilot incapacitation and pitot static icing are possible causes but it spends much more time explaining the relationship between chronic alcohol abuse and suicide. It also notes the crash occurred roughly three weeks after Brandt was turned down for promotion to chief pilot and a Germanwings first officer intentionally crashed an A320 into the French Alps in a chillingly similar scenario.

In a news release accompanying the report, TSB Chair Kathy Fox said mandatory testing and monitoring of aviation workers for substance abuse should be implemented by the government. Canada does not mandate random drug and alcohol testing for pilots. "In Canada, regulations and company rules prohibit flying while impaired, but they rely heavily on self-policing," said Kathy Fox, chair of the TSB. "What is needed is a comprehensive substance abuse program that would include mandatory testing as well as complementary initiatives such as education, employee assistance, rehabilitation and peer support.”

Comments (5)

Judging from the photo it looks like a down draft if the winds were high on the opposite side of the mountain. The curve indicates to me a turn because they could not get the lift needed. A loss of air speed added to a down draft is a bad situation to be in. It looks like a great scenario that could be repeated.

Posted by: Don Lineback | November 6, 2017 6:35 AM    Report this comment

>> Judging from the photo it looks like a down draft if the
>> winds were high on the opposite side of the mountain.
>> The curve indicates to me a turn because they could not
>> get the lift needed. A loss of air speed added to a down
>> draft is a bad situation to be in. It looks like a great
>> scenario that could be repeated.


BRAVO SIERRA !

Posted by: John Ousterhout | November 6, 2017 2:45 PM    Report this comment

According to jacdec.de

"At the time, the weather consisted of rainfall, and intense ***snowfall*** in higher regions. There also have been pilot reports of ***turbulence*** in the area."

I think this is journalistic sensationalism on Avwebs part. They always look at EVERYTHING but it appears that icing and/or turbulence (and downdraft) would be the subject of primary investigation. Folks in larger airplanes keep forgetting they are vulnerable to weather too - just not as often.

Posted by: Jan Zumwalt | November 6, 2017 4:12 PM    Report this comment

Although it does appear the captain definitely had a drinking problem and this might have been a factor in a loss of control that was not corrected, it seems a stretch to suggest he committed suicide by crash.

The report stated "He appeared to be in a positive state of mind and spent a few minutes speaking with other company pilots who were also preparing to operate flights. He used a company computer to access weather information and placed a telephone call to NAV CANADAFootnote 2 to file an instrument flight rules flight plan. No abnormal behaviour was observed by anyone with whom he had contact."

Posted by: John Wilson | November 6, 2017 7:47 PM    Report this comment

I was surprised to learn that Canadian commercial aviation rules rely on "self reporting" of substance use. Until they face reality, unfortunately, there will be more accidents related to substance intoxication.

Posted by: Ronald Shippee | November 7, 2017 8:53 AM    Report this comment

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