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Unanticipated traffic caused DHC-8 and Zlin 242 near miss near Sault Ste. Marie
15 October 2015
Aircraft tracks leading to the risk of collision (Google Earth, with TSB annotations)

Aircraft tracks leading to the risk of collision (Google Earth, with TSB annotations)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report into the September 2014 risk of collision between a Sault College flight training aircraft and a Jazz Aviation flight near the Sault Ste. Marie, Airport. There were no injuries.

On 3 September 2014, a Jazz Aviation de Havilland Canada DHC-8-102 departed the Sault Ste. Marie Airport on a flight to Toronto, Ontario, with 34 passengers and 3 crew members aboard. At the same time, a Sault College Zlin 242 with a student pilot and instructor aboard was on a training flight southeast of the airport, intending to practise spins. While climbing through approximately 4000 feet after receiving clearance by air traffic control, the DHC-8 flight crew received a traffic advisory from the aircraft’s traffic alert and collision avoidance system and spotted the Zlin 3 miles ahead and 1000 feet above. The DHC-8 levelled off at 4500 feet, but the Zlin entered a practice spin, resulting in a rapid descending turn towards the DHC-8. The DHC-8 flight crew took evasive action, and the Zlin passed on the right side of them, separated laterally by 350 to 450 feet (107-137 meters).

The TSB investigation found that the altitude portion of the radar target representing the Zlin went unnoticed when air traffic control cleared the DHC-8 to turn to a specified waypoint and climb. While the Zlin flight crew did a visual scan prior to the spin, they did not see the DHC-8, possibly due to its position below the aircraft, or to a lack of anticipation of conflicting traffic. The DHC-8 flight crew was unaware of the possibility of training aircraft in their vicinity and had no reason to anticipate that the opposing traffic would enter a spin and rapidly descend towards them. The investigation observed that there is an increased risk of collision if flight training exercises take place in airspace not specifically designated for them, or if they are not known to air traffic control.

Following the occurrence, Sault College changed their program, which now requires its pilots to notify air traffic control when they intend to practise spins within 10 nautical miles of the control zone, and prohibits spins within the departure and approach paths of airports in the surrounding area.

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