School Aircraft Collide, One Dead

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Officials at a Montreal flight school say they are at a loss to explain how two Chinese students flying school-owned Cessna 152s collided above a busy shopping mall and crashed on Friday, killing one of the students and severely injuring the other. One of the aircraft went through the roof of the mall; the other crumpled in the parking lot and the pilot flying died at the scene. No one on the ground was hurt but two witnesses were treated for shock. “The cause is not obvious,” Daniel Adams, operations manager and director of flight safety of Cargair, told the Montreal Gazette. “There was no reason to think something like this could happen. The conditions were perfect. It was a storm of good weather: there was no wind, it was magnificent, the visibility was excellent. So what happened?”

The flights originated from St-Hubert Airport and the students, among about 150 the school trains annually for Chinese airlines, did all the normal flight planning before their flights. The only anomaly was that one of the pilots inexplicably and without making a radio call suddenly changed altitude. The conflict was noticed by a controller who tried four times to raise one of the aircraft on the radio to tell him to maintain 1,600 feet and that the other aircraft was taking off a mile away. There was no response from the pilot, who had previously had routine contact with the tower. Although they were both from China, the pilots were fluent in English and had no difficulty communicating with ATC, Adams told the Gazette. One of the students had 40 hours on his student permit and the other was a private pilot with 140 hours working on his commercial ticket. The dead pilot was in the aircraft that was taking off, according to the Gazette.

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