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Report: CL-415 water bomber loss of control crash in Canada due to overloading
28 August 2014
The CL-415 after recovery from the lake (TSB)

The CL-415 after recovery from the lake (TSB)

A CL-415 amphibious aircraft scooped up too much water for a fire fighting flight and crashed on takeoff from a lake in Canada, according to a TSB report.

On 3 July 2013, the CL-415 amphibious aircraft operating as Tanker 286, departed Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador, to fight a nearby forest fire. Shortly after departure, Tanker 286 touched down on Moosehead Lake to scoop a load of water. About 40 seconds later, the captain initiated a left hand turn and almost immediately lost control. The aircraft came to rest upright, but partially submerged. The crew exited the aircraft and remained on the top of the wing until rescued by boat.

The TSB accident investigation found that the PROBES AUTO/MANUAL switch position check was not included on the checklist, and it is likely that the PROBES AUTO/MANUAL switch was inadvertently moved from the AUTO to MANUAL selection. The switch controls the probes, which is the equipment used to scoop water from a lake. The report warns that, if a checklist does not include a critical item, and flight crews are expected to rely on their memory, then there is a risk that the item will be missed and safety could be jeopardized.

The investigation also found that the flight crew was occupied with other flight activities during the scooping run and did not notice that the water quantity exceeded the predetermined limit until after the tanks had filled to capacity. The flight crew then decided to continue the take-off with the aircraft in an overweight condition.

Some safety action has been taken by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Air Services Division. Changes have been made to the storage and securement of safety gear and the installation of a portable satellite telephone in their aircraft. Water bomber pilots and maintenance personnel will be subject to new training and an increased training flight schedule. Finally, the checklist has been amended to include PROBES AUTO/MANUAL switch verification.

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