Decisions

CAT File No. C-1460-33
MoT File No. RAP6504-P359293-029268

CIVIL AVIATION TRIBUNAL

BETWEEN:

Minister of Transport, Applicant

- and -

Paul Charles Edward Stover, Respondent

LEGISLATION:
Aeronautics Act, S.C., c.A-2, s.7.7
Canadian Aviation Regulations, SOR/96-433, s.602.01

Negligent or Reckless Operation of an Aircraft


Review Determination
Gordon R. Mitchell


Decision: August 11, 1997

I find that Captain Stover was negligent in backtracking runway 05 which was not the active runway, and further that his action of taking off into the face of incoming traffic was reckless. I confirm the Minister's decision to assess a monetary penalty of $500.00 for contravening section 602.01 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The said penalty shall be made payable to The Receiver General for Canada and received by the Civil Aviation Tribunal within fifteen days of service of this determination.

A Review Hearing on the above entitled matter was held Monday, July 14, 1997, at 10:00 hours at the Provincial Government Building, in Thompson, Manitoba.

NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT OF MONETARY PENALTY

Pursuant to section 7.7 of the Aeronautics Act, the Minister of Transport has decided to assess a monetary penalty on the grounds that you have contravened the following provision(s):

Canadian Aviation Regulation 602.01, in that at approximately 1821 hours U.T.C. of December 11, 1996 at or near Thompson, Manitoba, you did unlawfully operate a Cessna 402B aircraft bearing Canadian registration marks C-GSRL in such a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, the life or property of any person, by reason of the fact that you initiated a take off on runway 05 while another aircraft was in the process of landing on runway 23.

PRE-HEARING CONFERENCE

Case Presenting Officer Inspector Hiscock indicated that there was an informal conference held and that Captain Stover had agreed to allow the taped and transcribed statement he gave Inspector Gagnon to be entered.

The copy of the Certificate of Registration and Aircraft Log pages were to be entered as well. This is in reference to Cessna 402, C-GSRL.

Captain Stover did not object.

OVERVIEW

On December 11, 1996 at 1811 UTC a Medevac aircraft, Cessna 414, C-GMOM was approaching Thompson Airport from the southeast. The Captain of C-GMOM was Bruce Foster, and the First Officer was Paul Phillips.

Aircraft C-GMOM called Thompson FSS twenty-five miles for the airport advisory. FSS related that the active runway was 23, winds calm and altimeter 2974.

Aircraft C-GMOM acknowledged planning 23 and would call 5 back.

At 1815 UTC, Captain Paul Stover of Skyward Cessna 402 C-GSRL called FSS indicating that he was ready to taxi, and he requested advisory. He was given the active runway as 23. He was advised that there was inbound traffic from the southeast that would be landing in four minutes on 23.

Captain Stover acknowledged and said he was backtracking 05 and would call when airborne.

At 1816:41 FSS transmission to Skyward 402 "on the backtrack for departure runway 05 the AH wind is AH 080 at 5 altimeter 2974 traffic inbound a Cessna 414 from the southeast estimating runway 23 in 3 minutes or so break Mike Oscar Mike AH how far back are you now?"

1817:08 C-GMOM answered, "Mike Oscar Mike's AH 6 back we'll be there in 2 minutes."

In Captain Stover's initial conversation with FSS, he was advised that the active runway was 23. Regardless of this he chose to backtrack 05. He then proceeded to take off into the face of inbound traffic on runway 23.

EVIDENCE

The Minister's first witness William Murray, Flight Service Specialist was called and sworn. He verified the tape and transcript which were presented as Exhibits.

M-1 Audio Tape marked C-GMOM/# – SGK300
M-2 Transcript of tape

Mr. Murray related what he had seen during the incident: Cessna 414 C-GMOM Medevac inbound on runway 23 and Cessna 402 C-GSRL taking off on runway 05. He stated that C-GSRL (SGK300) had taken off. He reported him over the threshold of 23 to C-GMOM as he did not think they would see each other. The two aircraft continued to close and looked like they would collide. At a point he estimated as a mile and a half off the end of runway 23, C-GMOM did a violently evasive manoeuvre dropping approximately 300 feet and circled right behind departing SGK300 (C-GSRL).

When questioned as to the active runway, Mr. Murray stated, "Runway 23 was active."

The Minister's second witness was Bruce Foster, Captain of Medevac Cessna 414 C-GMOM who was coming into Thompson Airport on runway 23. Captain Foster did not see the ascending aircraft. His First Officer Paul Phillips did and assumed control, made an abrupt manoeuvre to miss the other aircraft, then circled for another approach on runway 23.

The Minister's third witness, Captain Paul Anthony Phillips, was the First Officer on the descending Medevac C-GMOM. He related the approach and his conversation with Captain Bruce Foster. They were watching for the Cessna 402 reported to be over the threshold of 23, neither of them had the 402 in sight until a call to FSS resulted in an answer indicating the 402 was at their twelve o'clock. First Officer Phillips saw the other aircraft first, assumed control and made an evasive manoeuvre to miss collision.

When asked, First Officer Phillips said that when he saw the other aircraft (402 C-GSRL) it was 400 to 500 feet away and coming straight for them.

The last witness for the Minister, Inspector James Welwood, was called and sworn in as an expert witness. When questioned, he stated that being certain that there was no possibility of conflict before taking off would have been more prudent for the departing aircraft.

Other Exhibits Presented

M-3 Copy of Certificate of Registration for Cessna 402, C-GSRL
M-4 Copy of page 3053 from Journey Log for C-GSRL
M-5 Transcript of warned statement of Paul Stover to Inspector Gagnon on January 8, 1997
M-6 Audio Tape, warned statement of Paul Stover

Mr. Hiscock asked that the tape of the interview between Inspector Gagnon and Paul Stover be played before the Review Hearing. Paul Stover had no objection.

This concluded the Minister's case other than final argument.

The Respondent's first witness, Paul Stover, was called and sworn. He gave a record of his employment with Skyward Aviation Ltd. and the training he had received while there. He said that this was the first such incident that he had been involved in since beginning his employment with Skyward.

The Respondent presented the following Exhibits:

D-7 VFR Communication Procedures at Uncontrolled Aerodromes, A.I.P Canada, page RAC 4-19
D-8 Active Runways, A.I.P Canada, page RAC 4-16
D-9 Potential Conflict, A.I.P Canada, page RAC 1-4
D-10 Glossary of Aeronautical Terms, A.I.P Canada, page GEN 5-1

Captain Stover gave his version of the incident as he felt it related to C-GMOM Medevac and his aircraft C-GSRL. He ran through the various actions of both and in particular the time involved and the miles. His calculations in his view left him time to clear the runway before the arrival of C-GMOM.

CONCLUSION

Captain Stover said he felt that he had sufficient time to be in the clear before the arrival of C-GMOM. I do not think he was paying attention to the information available to him. The figures he quoted were favouring the actions he had taken.

A few of the pertinent times taken from the FSS tape follow:

1811:21 C-GMOM/# "Currently twenty-five miles to the southeast," arriving "in 7 minutes."
1815:15 FSS               

"Traffic is a Cessna 414 approximately eighteen miles southeast inbound for landing runway 23 in 4 minutes."

1817:08 C-GMOM/# "Mike Oscar Mike's AH 6 back we'll be there in 2 minutes."
1818:40         C-GMOM/# "Final for twenty-three."

The above times certainly indicate that those given by C-GMOM are the most accurate received at the Review Hearing. At 1811:21 C-GMOM indicates its arrival in seven minutes. At 1815:15 FSS indicates arrival now four minutes. At 1817:08 C-GMOM states it is six back and will be there in two minutes, and at 1818:40 C-GMOM is final for 23.

In slightly more than seven minutes C-GMOM is on final and finds it necessary to take evasive action to avoid colliding with an ascending aircraft (C-GSRL) which has taken off on runway 05.

It is evident that C-GMOM's transmitted times were fairly accurate.

Captain Paul Stover agreed to an interview with Inspector Gagnon being taped and later transcribed. The tape and transcription were presented at the Review Hearing with the consent of Captain Stover.

In the transcription he stated that "as a pilot-in-command I accept full responsibility for my actions, ah the onus was on me to get out of MOM's way since he was landing I was getting off on a runway other than the active one."

Captain Stover knew that something was amiss when he told of deciding "to speed things up simply by doing a partial back track of the runway."

Captain Stover concedes that his decision to use runway 05 was that it was in line with his planned destination of York Landing. It is frightening to think of what could have happened all for the sake of not having to do a 180 after take-off!

I find the testimony of three of the four people most closely involved in this incident to be acceptable. This is the testimony of the FSS and the two crew members in C-GMOM. Captain Stover's testimony is not consistent.

DETERMINATION

I find that Captain Stover was negligent in backtracking runway 05 which was not the active runway, and further that his action of taking off into the face of incoming traffic was reckless. I confirm the Minister's decision to assess a monetary penalty of $500.00 for contravening section 602.01 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

Gordon R. Mitchell
Member
Civil Aviation Tribunal