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C170 fatal - strange decisions.

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C170 fatal - strange decisions.

Old 24th Feb 2021, 18:37
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C170 fatal - strange decisions.

This fatal accident report, with a presumably very young solo pilot, looks to have been an easily avoidable accident. Disturbing and puzzling.
https://data.ntsb.gov/carol-repgen/api/Aviation/ReportMain/GenerateNewestReport/102572/pdf
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Old 24th Feb 2021, 20:00
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I don't exactly know the pilot's decision basis, though I'm certain that restrictions on entering Canada were a factor - the border is technically closed. He probably wanted to fly from the US to the US, without stopping in Canada. Had he stopped in Canada, he would have been subject to at a minimum, a two week quarantine, and possibly being limited to landing in Vancouver only.

My guess would be that with a cabin tank, this was not the first time he'd flown this route, just the headwinds got him this time. The turn back makes me think that he decided that to run downwind back to Victoria as quarantine became more attractive than to continue into the wind with empty tanks, but it did not work. Sunset was probably a factor too. That is a very rugged route, with only a few airports along the way to divert to. Most of that route is only suitable to single engine VFR in the most favourable conditions....
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Old 24th Feb 2021, 20:27
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Would he not have been able to land in Canada just to refuel with leaving the aircraft so to speak?
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Old 25th Feb 2021, 00:46
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No, Canada has been very strict about Americans [not] entering. The American ratio of infection is less favourable than Canada's (and we're not great). The Canadian government has put in place very burdensome entry requirements. It has been "normal" for Americans to drive through Canada to get from the "lower 48" to Alaska. They were told: "Okay, but go direct, only refueling stops". Bu there were too many occasions where this was not followed, with American touring around off the route in Canada. Normally, we'd be happy for the tourism, but not just now, and in particular, as doing so violated the spirit of the permission to enter Canada.

The border is not very strictly enforced, and there are places where in past times, one might have snuck in a refueling stop , but radar coverage is pretty constant now, so I would not try it, neither country's border patrol have any sense of humour at all! As I flew along the Canadian edge of the border (wholly within Canada at all times) a couple of years ago, the American border patrol helicopter shadowed me for 45 minutes, until they could no longer. Then, they had the nerve to ask the Canadian police to phone me to ask me what I'd been doing flying so close to the border. I replied: "Flying my Canadian plane in Canadian airspace, none of the American's business", and that ended that, but, they were watching!

So the poor fellow in the 170 was legal (assuming a flight plan down the B.C. coast), and with more range, he might have done it. At the last minute, it was no longer going to work, and the Canadian penalties would be better than splashing, but he did not make it. Port Angeles is not a place to fool around in the darkness, unless very well prepared, there are a lot of mountains right there. They are easily seen from Victoria B.C.
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Old 25th Feb 2021, 09:06
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Thanks PD, what a shame... Ketchikan to Port Angeles is about 600 miles - rather less than I would have thought and the 170 seems to be capable of something like 500 max with standard tanks. From the report the fuselage tank would have given him perhaps an extra 150-200 miles range, not a lot of margin I'd think.
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Old 25th Feb 2021, 11:02
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I've only flown that area a couple of times. The once I planned to but didn't (as the flying copilot that trip), My captain took us inland instead, just out of instinct. The winds came way up later that day, and we would not have had the range in the helicopter to make it anywhere, had we set out. That is a route which requires lots of experience or mentoring to fly safely....
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Old 25th Feb 2021, 15:57
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From the radar plotting it is unclear what the pilot did below 400', but if the last direction of travel was maintained that would make things worst for contact with the water. The strong headwind would had become a strong tailwind, increasing the ground speed at the point of contact with the water, which certainly doesn't help, and would make the event less survivable.

If faced with unexpected weather, and being pushed for fuel, one has to ready to abandon the original plan, and adapt to the situation. Had he tryed to go to Orcas Island, assuming the weather there was acceptable at the time, he would probably still be alive.
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Old 25th Feb 2021, 19:19
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A vessel towing a large barge is the least likely to be able to rescue someone, especially in the likely sea conditions with a strong wind. He had little reason to be certain of his fuel situation. Deciding to turn a few minutes earlier would have got him to land.
The following extracts surprised me:
"During the flight, the pilot was in contact with his mother sending numerous text messages. Around 1525 the pilot sent a text stating that there was a severe headwind and expressed his concerned about having enough fuel to complete the flight."......." The pilot sent a picture to his mother about1637 which showed a marine vessel towing a barge in the water below his location. The pilot broadcast a mayday call over the Port Angeles UNICOM frequency at 1638:47."
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Old 26th Feb 2021, 00:38
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Without second guessing or judging the pilot's thoughts and decisions in this case I can't understand why anyone landing for fuel would be quarantined. Surely the point of quarantine is to avoid the person coming into contact with in country persons. If you get back in the plane and go on to your destination you are achieving exactly that. If you are quarantined you are going to come into contact with people on the ground, drivers, hotel staff, service people etc. Rather counter productive!

In spite of the current new quarantine regs. it appears only a few small percent of arrivals are being quarantined (we are told as little as two or three percent,) and there are reports of non essential journey arrivals just walking out of YVR without inquiry as to their status.
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Old 26th Feb 2021, 11:03
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Fully agree with that point of view.
Can not see the inconvenience of stopping at some place where there is Customs, or Immigration, to supervise the "turn-around", with a pre-arranged payment of a certain quantity of fuel, and the landing fees if that happens to be the case. He stops, someone puts the fuel in the aircraft, and he goes. No need to come out of the aircraft.

In spite of the current new quarantine regs. it appears only a few small percent of arrivals are being quarantined (we are told as little as two or three percent,) and there are reports of non essential journey arrivals just walking out of YVR without inquiry as to their status.
Have no idea of the applicable rules, but could that be the case for Canadian citizens, and in the case of foreign people the applicable rules are different ?
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Old 26th Feb 2021, 11:34
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The present rules in Canada are that there are only four "airports of entry" , of which Vancouver is one. There is no provision to land and make a fuel purchase in Canada without clearing inbound customs. Customs officers do not provide a "supervision of non clearing pilots" service. You either clear in, or you don't enter. Right now, clearing in would require a formal stop at Vancouver. The Canada/US border has effectively been closed to all but a select few "official" purposes for just about a year now. This has been inconvenient, but clear. Presuming that this pilot properly filed his flight plan for a Canada overflight (which is probably fine, though I have not checked that for myself), he would have understood the requirements and limitations for clearing Canadian customs, even if just for a fuel stop.

As a Canadian citizen, I once arrived back into Canada, and presented myself to customs, without having filed a flight plan. I was in major trouble for landing in Canada from the US without having filed a flight plan. Neither customs authority take this lightly.... Indeed, [apparently] if I arrive to US customs more than 15 minutes either side of my flight planned arrival time, there's big trouble, though I have never tested this. The rules are well published, and have to be followed....
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Old 26th Feb 2021, 12:43
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Hello!

Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
The rules are well published, and have to be followed....
Yes, but we all have been tought - and should repeat that to ourselves every now and then - that in an emergency the rules do not apply. Your safety and that of your passengers (luckily none in this case) and aircraft come before every other rule. First you land safely. The investigation and possible consequences can wait until after that.

Regards
Max
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Old 26th Feb 2021, 16:12
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Oh yes, I'm not saying not to land for fuel when you need to, but it you do so, customs rules may apply too, and an "urgency" does not exempt you from customs rules...
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 01:49
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
The present rules in Canada are that there are only four "airports of entry" , of which Vancouver is one.
Not actually a factor on the date of the accident flight, I *think*.
Still, even this "4 airports" rule has exceptions. I was just alerted (by a COPA email) to Transport Canada's AIC 6/21, which notes that recreational aviation is not restricted to the 4 airports and even for commercial aircraft are allowed technical / fuel stops in Canada at other places.
(Other than this, I'm sure I'd defer to Pilot DAR on most things aviation related.)
(The accident was in late January, while the AIC and the NOTAM it was referring to were to come into effect Feb 4. Before that time I don't think we had the "4 airports" restriction at all, but I don't know the details. That still leaves the accident pilot having faced the issue of customs & I guess quarantine.)
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 02:15
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Yes, but we all have been tought - and should repeat that to ourselves every now and then - that in an emergency the rules do not apply. Your safety and that of your passengers (luckily none in this case) and aircraft come before every other rule. First you land safely. The investigation and possible consequences can wait until after that.
Bolding mine, as PIC you are the one, and the only one, responsible for the safety of the aircraft and all on board, another is telling controllers "unable" and "require" to achieve that.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 16:53
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Windy is a handy wind forecast tool. There's a YT of a light twin pilot using it to time when to fly to California from Hawaii.

The NTSB initial report shows no flight plan filed. On a flight plan (legally required) the paperwork and possibility of fines is much reduced if you have to declare an emergency and make a fuel stop once it looks uncertain you will make it all the way. In any case, much less trouble than swimming.

Halfway, or even earlier, into the flight is a good time to check if fuel is looking good. Given the headwind, he would have had a nice tailwind and no paperwork if he had turned back to Alaska, just an extra fuel bill.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 04:54
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I live about four miles from the last radar position but hadn't heard of the accident. Below is a local report, which states that the crash occurred in US waters, but Picture 2 in the NTSB report indicates that the ditching might have been on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

https://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/s...oria-1.5283658



Since no wreckage has been found and given that it was a US "Domestic" flight, I imagine the TSB were more than happy for the NTSB to take responsibility for the investigation.
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Old 1st Mar 2021, 01:19
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Customs can be accommodating when needed

Way back in the ADCUS days, I was returning to CYTZ from a suburban field near Philadelphia and had filed. Paid the fuel bill, but on checking the fuel caps, there was no gas added. They tore up the fuel bill, but the gas truck had sprang a leak So off to another field to fuel up and amend the flight plan. Finally heading home in a 30 kt headwind and NY Center eventually let me know that CYTZ would be closed by the time I'd get back. They got customs to approve change to YYZ and customs was perfectly happy when I taxied up to them.
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