Decisions

CAT File No. O-1716-33
MoT File No. PAP 6504-Z-000004-031593

CIVIL AVIATION TRIBUNAL

BETWEEN:

Minister of Transport, Applicant

- and -

Jason Stinson, Respondent

LEGISLATION:
Aeronautics Act, S.C., c. A-2, s. 7.7
Canadian Aviation Regulations, SOR/96-433, ss. 202.13(2), 401.03(1)(a), 602.01, 602.29(1)(e)

Unregistered Aircraft, Ultra-Light Parachute, Ultra-Light, Passenger, Negligent or Reckless Operation of an Aircraft, Flying Without a Permit


Review Determination
Samuel J. Birenbaum


Decision: April 15, 1999

Offence #1, I confirm the Minister's allegation that Mr. Stinson did act as pilot-in-command of an ultra-light powered parachute aircraft without being the holder of a pilot permit—ultra-light aeroplane. I confirm the Minister's assessed penalty of $1,000.00.

Offence #2, I confirm that Mr. Stinson operated an ultra-light powered parachute aircraft that was not registered in Canada, in a contracting state or in a foreign state that has an agreement in force with Canada. I confirm the Minister's assessed penalty of $1,000.00.

Offence #3, I confirm the Minister's allegation that Mr. Stinson, as pilot-in-command, operated an ultra-light aeroplane, while carrying another person on board. I confirm the Minister's assessed penalty of $250.00.

Offence #4, I confirm the Minister's finding that Mr. Stinson operated an aircraft in such a reckless manner as to endanger the life or property of persons. I confirm the Minister's assessed penalty of $1,000.00. The total amount of $3250.00, made payable to the Receiver General for Canada, must be received by the Civil Aviation Tribunal within fifteen days of service of this determination.

A Review Hearing on the above matter was held Friday, March 19, 1999, commencing at 10:45 hours, in the community room of the fire hall, in Mount Forest, Ontario.

BACKGROUND

On July 8, 1998 at about 20:37 an ultra-light powered parachute aircraft carrying a pilot and passenger was observed to crash in a field in Egremont Township after striking a row of trees and wires. As a result of the investigation of this accident by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and by Transport Canada, four allegations were made against the pilot identified as Jason Stinson.

Mr. Stinson was advised of the allegations and was offered an opportunity to meet with officials of Transport Canada but failed to do so. He did respond by letter but failed to appear at his review hearing on March 19, 1999.

A certificate of service was provided to the Tribunal indicating that Jason Stinson had been served with a notice of the review hearing in the provincial courtroom #2 in Guelph, Ontario on February 25, 1999 at 10:13 by police Constable Dennis Olfert, badge #66. After waiting 15 minutes and making three unanswered requests to determine if Mr. Stinson or his representative or witnesses were in the room, it was decided to proceed with the review hearing which accordingly commenced at 10:45.

EVIDENCE

Case Presenting Officer, Mr. David Bland, in his opening remarks reviewed the four allegations and stated that several attempts were made to meet with Mr. Jason Stinson, but other than a letter, no meeting could be arranged. Mr. Bland introduced into evidence Exhibit M-l, a registered letter to Mr. Stinson outlining the possible violations alleged against him and offering him an opportunity to respond or to present evidence or other mitigating factors.

Exhibit M-2 indicated in detail the four separate offences and was sent by registered mail to Mr. Jason Stinson. This exhibit further indicated the monetary penalty assessed which amounted to a total of $3,250.00. Again, Mr. Stinson was offered an opportunity to discuss the sanction but did not do so.

Exhibit M-3 was next introduced which consisted of a letter of reply from Jason Stinson to Mr. Ross Beck of Transport Canada outlining his defence. He stated that he became interested in powered parachute aircraft and purchased and flew one without benefit of a licence to fly, nor registration of the aircraft. When he discovered that he needed to obtain a pilot licence and registration certificate, he was delayed in doing so by various financial and business concerns, but planned to do so at some future time. He stated that he flew the aircraft that day in a careful manner, and that the accident was caused by an unexpected gust of wind and an inability to climb high enough to clear the height of obstacles in his path. He further stated that the preceding two years had been difficult for him since he had had a marital breakdown and had also suffered a nervous breakdown. He denied flying in a reckless manner.

He introduced Exhibit M-4, a certificate from the acting secretary, Department of Transport, asserting that on or about July 8, 1998, there was no record of a licence or permit under the Aeronautics Act being issued to Mr. Jason Stinson. Exhibit M-5 stated that on or about July 8, 1998 there was no record of a certificate of registration issued with respect to a powered parachute ultra-light, serial #96-14132. Mr. Bland introduced Exhibit M-6, a general occurrence report prepared by Constable Wheeler, arising from the incident on July 8, 1998.

The first witness, Constable David Lloyd Wheeler of the OPP, Mount Forest detachment, was sworn. He stated that on Wednesday, July 8, 1998, at approximately 22:15, he arrived at the site of a crash of an ultra-light aircraft piloted by Mr. Jason Stinson and carrying a passenger identified as Darryl Evans of Elmwood, Ontario. He was told by another OPP member on site before him that the two people involved were taken to hospital in Mount Forest for treatment and neither of them wore helmets, and it was felt that the aircraft was too heavy to take off safely. Statements were taken from two other witnesses and the remains of the aircraft were taken into custody. It was noted to be an ultra-light aircraft manufactured on February 27, 1996, serial #96-14132 and was powered by a Rotax C engine. It had four wheels, and a propeller on the rear with an attached parachute. The entire structure was badly damaged. No registration markings were observed on the aircraft. The time of the accident was fixed at about 20:48 local. It was further observed that the wires were knocked down at the site of the accident, and in a subsequent interview with Mr. Stinson, the pilot confirmed that he had no pilot licence. The officers questioned the medical attendants who stated there was no obvious evidence of alcohol or cannabis impairment noted by them.

Steven Michael McLaughlin was duly sworn. On July 8, 1998, he was playing basketball at his home adjacent to the area where the aircraft took off. He observed the aircraft lifting off and the two persons aboard. He saw it hit the telephone wires, spin around, and fall nose-first into the ground, after striking the tips of some treetops. He immediately went to assist the people in the aircraft and observed that the passenger sitting behind the pilot was injured, he believed, from the wire hitting his forehead, pushing his head backwards, causing bleeding in the area of the head. He observed the pilot speaking irrationally, repeating himself, without making any sense. He felt that he may have been electrocuted from striking the wires. He stated that the time of the accident was about 20:45 and that there was still adequate lighting. He stated that he observed this aircraft operated by Mr. Stinson on several occasions, taking off from this same field.

The last witness was Adam Earl Brewster who was sworn. He stated that on July 8, 1998 he had taken a ride with Mr. Stinson in the same aircraft and later observed the flight that resulted in the accident. He stated that the passenger was about 25 lb heavier than he, and the aircraft took a longer than usual take-off run. Shortly after liftoff, it seemed to veer to the left as if caught by wind. It then skimmed over treetops and then crashed into some wires, after which it went nose-first into the ground. He observed this from his four wheel drive vehicle in which he was following the aircraft. He stated that he did observe the pilot check the lines of the aircraft before take-off. He immediately went to the site of the crash and observed the passenger hanging upside-down from his belt. He assisted in the removal of the passenger and neither the passenger nor the pilot were wearing helmets.

THE LAW

Subsection 202.13(2) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs):

202.13

(...)

(2) Except as otherwise authorised pursuant to subsection 202.14(1), 202.42(3) or 202.43(1), no person shall operate an aircraft in Canada unless it is registered in Canada, in a contracting state or in a foreign state that has an agreement in force with Canada that allows an aircraft that is registered in that foreign state to be operated in Canada.

Paragraph 401.03(1)(a) of the CARs:

401.03 (1) No person shall act as a flight crew member or exercise the privileges of a flight crew permit, licence or rating unless

(a) subject to subsection (2) and sections 401.19 to 401.27, the person is the holder of, and can produce while so acting and while exercising such privileges, the appropriate permit, licence or rating; and

(...)

Section 602.01 of the CARs:

602.01 No person shall operate an aircraft in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger the life or property of any person.

Paragraph 602.29(1)(e) of the CARs:

602.29 (1) No person shall operate a hang glider or an ultra-light aeroplane

(...)

(e) subject to subsections (4) and (5), while carrying another person on board; or

(...)

(4) A person may operate a hang glider or an ultra-light aeroplane with another person on board where the flight is conducted for the purpose of providing dual flight instruction.

(5) A person may operate an advanced ultra-light aeroplane with another person on board where the pilot holds a permit or licence issued pursuant to Subpart 1 of Part IV that is appropriate to the functions or privileges being exercised.

CLOSING ARGUMENT

Mr. Bland asserted that on a balance of probabilities, the four allegations have been proven from the testimony of eye witnesses and the exhibits submitted. Mr. Bland added that the penalties assessed were in accordance with those recommended and represented fair and just sanctions under the circumstances.

DISCUSSION

It is quite clear that on July 8, 1998, Mr. Stinson operated an ultra-light powered parachute aircraft while not possessing an aviation document giving him the right to do so. The aircraft contained no registration marks and no certificate of registration was issued by a Canadian authority. A passenger was observed in the back seat of the aircraft while the carrying of a passenger is prohibited under paragraph 602.29(l)(e) of the CARs. The aircraft crashed after failing to clear obstacles in its path. There was no defence provided and no evidence that the pilot had the necessary training nor credentials to perform the flight. It would appear that only good fortune prevented a more serious disaster, and no evidence was provided that the pilot ever secured the safety of his passenger since no helmets were worn. Thus, the only possible conclusion is that Mr. Jason Stinson behaved in a reckless manner which, indeed, did endanger property and persons.

DETERMINATION

I find that all four offences have been proven and confirm the Minister's penalties for offences 1, 2 and 4; each penalty being in the amount of $1,000.00 and for offence 3 in the amount of $250.00 for a total amount of $3,250.00.

Mr. Jason Stinson failed to appear for his review hearing, and one can only speculate on the reasons why.

Dr. Samuel Birenbaum
Member
Civil Aviation Tribunal