News / Calgary

MRU flight investigation could take a year, no blackbox on board

Transportation Safety Board is removing the wreckage and continuing to investigate

Mount Royal took delivery of their three TECNAM planes in February 2012.

Courtesy/ Mount Royal University

Mount Royal took delivery of their three TECNAM planes in February 2012.

The investigation into what happened aboard a Mount Royal University flight is in its infancy, and with an ongoing investigation that could take a year, and no black box aboard, answers on the fatal crash will remain a mystery for some time.

On Monday, police attended a serious crash just after 6:00 p.m. One of Mount Royal University’s twin-engine TECNAM P2006T flights went down in the Waiparous area; on board were two flight instructors.

There were no survivors.

Wednesday, as Jeff Bird and Reyn Johnson’s families mourn, investigators are removing the wreckage from the crash site and bringing it to Edmonton.

According to the Transportation Safety Board the plane isn’t required to, and didn’t have a black box.

It’s unclear how long an investigation will take, or what details will surface about the two experienced pilot’s final moments. But John McKenna president of the Air Transportation Association of Canada said they typically wrap up in a year.

“It’s a tight-knit community, and there are very few accidents in Canada,” McKenna said. “When they happen, we’re always incredibly overwhelmed by them.”

He wouldn’t comment on the investigation, pointing out no one knows the circumstances, what the instructors on board went through.

For students and loved ones at MRU, all watching the investigation and seeking closure, the timeline still isn’t clear.

Julie Leroux, a TSB spokeswoman said currently they are in the first phase of their three-phase investigation.

There are two experts working on the scene, gathering data, taking photos, consulting with witnesses and MRU. It’s called the field phase.

Courtesy/ Transportation Safety Board

When reporters asked about the second plane in the air at the time of the crash, and whether there were students aboard, Peter Davison, director of the MRU emergency operations centre wouldn’t offer comment.

“Our foremost concerns remain with the families of the deceased, faculty, students and staff in the aviation program here at Mount Royal,” Davison said. He told reporters that at this time there’s not much the school can share about the tragic crash, they’re bound to wait out the TSB investigation.

He said the school employs a comprehensive safety management system, and is accredited by the world-leading Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).

MRU will be following legislative compliances, which includes an internal investigation into the incident and program safety.

“That will come in the future when all other regulatory bodies have completed their investigations,” Davison said. He noted it doesn’t mean they will wait for a final ruling from the TSB before launching their own investigation.

“I can’t provide a whole lot of specifics, a lot will depend on the findings, where the regulatory investigations go,” Davison said.

McKenna said it’s unlikely the crash will have a lasting effect on the school’s reputation unless the TSB report finds “gross negligence” on the school’s part – which he doubts is the case.

“Will it scare people away? I don’t think so,” McKenna said. “There’s a likelihood people will question the school – but flying in Canada, we have an incredible safety record here...everyone wants the answer, two skilled instructors, people with a lot of hours on the plane, we have no answers yet.”  

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