Plane Crashes Near Island in Lake Erie
8 minutes ago Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!
By TARA BRAUTIGAM, Associated Press Writer
TORONTO - A single-engine plane carrying at least nine people crashed Saturday in snowy weather shortly after taking off from a Canadian island in Lake Erie. Helicopters were searching the frigid water for survivors.
The pilot radioed a frantic call for help shortly after taking off about 5 p.m., but controllers then lost contact with the plane, said U.S. Coast Guard (news - web sites) Lt. j.g. Christopher Pasciuto. An island resident heard the plane laboring just before the crash, the Ontario Provincial Police said.
A helicopter found the wreckage of the Georgian Express plane at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday about a mile west of Ontario's Pelee Island, Pasciuto said. It was nose-down in the water with ice around it, airline president Paul Mulrooney said.
Helicopters were using searchlights to look for survivors in the water, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Mark Freeman said. The cutter Neah Bay was headed from the Detroit area to join the search.
The plane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, was bound for Windsor, Ontario, across the border from Detroit, and crashed about 20 miles north of Sandusky, Ohio.
VICTIM'S FAMILY ANGERED BY SEARCH DELAYS
THE LONDON FREE PRESS
Sadness has turned to anger for a Chatham family frustrated with delays in recovering their loved one's body from the icy waters of Lake Erie.
As the search for 10 people killed in last weekend's plane crash off Pelee Island was fruitless again yesterday, the family of Bob Brisco, one of the people aboard, began demanding answers.
Brisco's girlfriend of six years, Bonnie Lutz, and Brisco's four grown children went yesterday for the first time to Kingsville -- the nerve centre of the probe -- to ask investigators: What's taking so long?
"We're getting pretty angry," Lutz said, holding back tears.
"This (crash) happened Saturday night and here we're at Wednesday. If you had to wait for someone to reunite you with (a loved one), how would you feel? Until we actually see the body, you can't believe it. "
The Brisco family's concerns come amid another unsuccessful day of searching. After the second full day of diving, investigators admitted they can't say when the probe into the crash of Georgian Express Flight 126 will end.
And as divers gingerly approach the believed location to avoid disturbing evidence, Lutz, who angrily charges recovery workers are "tip-toeing" around the site, is concerned her priorities aren't in line with investigators'.
"Which one is going to take precedence -- the (Transportation Safety Board of Canada) investigation or getting the bodies back to the families?" she asked.
But Canadian Coast Guard representative Lawrence Swift said the divers consider both interests equally important.
"There's been a number of things they've found (with underwater search equipment) and said 'This is it' and it turns out to be something else," Swift said. "They may not know where it is, but they sure know where it's not."
Swift said investigators using the gear have covered 30,000 square metres, which would take divers alone two weeks to cover.
But the family's frustration is understandable, he said.
"It's just as frustrating for the ship's crew. They want to bring the missing home," Swift said. "I can appreciate that the families are questioning it."
The small plane went down minutes after picking up eight men from an annual hunting trip on Pelee Island.
Lutz worries it could be a week before the grieving families see the bodies of their lost loved ones recovered.
"Everybody can't believe that they haven't found anything yet," she said. "Now they're telling us they don't even know where it is. It's not like we're dealing with an ocean -- it's 24 bloody feet."
At a news conference yesterday, officials said the cord connecting remote underwater equipment with the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Samuel Risley became tangled Tuesday, stopping search efforts for about five hours.
Part of the crashed plane has been seen, but no significant wreckage has been found.
A tug, called from Port Dover on Tuesday to help stabilize the Risley, was held up by thick ice and still hadn't arrived last night, OPP said.
CD, Thanks for the article. My heart goes out to the family members who I'm sure are in total shock over this terrible tragedy. I remember my first reaction was complete anger with swissair for what they did to Tara- and that hasn't changed a bit. They have a long terrible road ahead of them.
Ottawa warned pilots of icing
Two years before this month's deadly crash of a Cessna 208B Caravan, the tangled wreck of another Caravan was pictured on the front of an aviation newsletter, a warning by Transport Canada that ice and flying don't mix. "Learn from the mistakes of others and avoid making them yourself," reads the masthead of the Aviation Safety Letter, published by Transport Canada and distributed to all holders of a valid Canadian pilot licence or permit.
The cover story, published at the end of 2001, was prompted by a crash of a Cessna 208B Caravan on Dec. 28, 1999, near Abbotsford Airport in B.C.
Like the crash that killed 10 people Jan. 17 in Lake Erie, the B.C. crash occurred moments after takeoff.
Though investigators here are examining the role ice played in the crash, those in B.C. fingered frost as a culprit.
"The aircraft was contaminated with frost during the takeoff, which would have increased drag and reduced the ability of the wings to produce lift," the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded.
The frost disabled the plane in such a way the pilot had little warning, investigators said.
Similar circumstances led to a fatal crash of a Caravan in Alaska in 1997 and two more crashes in 1990, the safety board wrote in a report obtained by The Free Press.
The risks of such takeoffs are apparent, the Transport Canada newsletter said.
"It is essential in cold weather to remove even small accumulations of frost, ice, or snow from wing, tail, and control surfaces . . . If these requirements are not performed, aircraft performance will be degraded to a point where a safe takeoff and climbout may not be possible," the story reads, quoting Cessna's icing training program and pilot's checklist.
A paper-thin layer of frost will cause a plane to lose lift. The speed a plane must maintain to avoid stalling is 35 per cent higher with frost than without frost, Cessna warns.
When a plane stalls, its engines continue to run, but there isn't enough airflow over the wing to generate the lift needed to keep the plane flying.
The plane drops and the pilot loses some ability to navigate it.
All five passengers and the pilot in the B.C. crash were hurt -- three of them seriously -- but they survived in part because their amphibious plane's floats absorbed much of the impact.
"The aircraft's floats absorbed much of the impact energy. These conditions likely enhanced the survivability of the accident," investigators concluded.
Canadian regulations prohibit pilots from taking off with any ice, frost or snow on critical surfaces such as wings, Transport Canada representative Francois Asselin said yesterday.
"It's really important not to mix icing and aircraft," Asselin said.
Transport Canada has suspended the operations of the airline that operated the doomed flight, Georgian Express.
An American lawsuit claims Cessna knew of a defect that made their Caravans especially vulnerable to ice, a claim not heard in court.
Crews continued yesterday to try to recover the downed Cessna and the victims, expanding the area of their search.
A second coast guard ship will be brought in to help recover the downed plane.
The Griffon will join the Samuel Risley at the site near Pelee Island.
Officials said a probe of the initial area has been completed and the Griffon's arrival in a few days will help as the search area expands.
Weather, including snowstorms blowing across the province yesterday, has hampered efforts to recover the aircraft.
However, coast guard spokesperson Lawrence Swift said they have no intention of bringing the ship in from the crash site, adding it is capable of riding out the storm.
The crash killed the pilot, his friend, and eight men returning from a hunting trip on Pelee Island, four of them from Chatham-Kent.
Ottawa warned pilots of icing
quote:Unbelievable CD. That's really awful that they ignored this warning from Transport Canada.
|Powered by Social Strata|