Quebec: Cessnas With Defects : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Montreal Gazette

Wednesday 9 May 2001

Inspection grounded 31 student planes All Cessnas checked at 8 flight schools had serious defects: Transport Canada WILLIAM MARSDEN The Gazette

One year after a flight instructor died in a 1998 crash of a Cessna 152, a Transport Canada maintenance official checked 31 Cessnas at eight flying schools in Quebec and found all 31 had serious defects.

Andre Pontbriand, a Transport Canada maintenance superintendent, told a Civil Aviation hearing yesterday 30 of the 31 aircraft had defective flaps or ailerons; three had incorrectly installed rudder springs; three had broken rudder springs; three had badly rusted rudder springs; one had a incorrectly attached rudder cable, while others had springs or brackets that were broken or badly worn.

He said that in all cases he grounded the aircraft until the defective parts were replaced.

Possible Crashes

Pontbriand said he only checked flight schools in his South Shore region of responsibility, including Saint- Hubert and Sherbrooke. He said he doesn't know what the condition is of planes in flying schools elsewhere in Quebec or Canada.

Outside the courtroom, he said all the defects were serious and could have resulted in a crash, particularly with inexperienced pilots.

Pontbriand was testifying at a hearing into charges that Gordon Leitch, the former head mechanic at Laurentide Aviation, failed to replace a broken rudder spring and bracket on the Cessna 152 that crashed and killed flight instructor David Abramson, 24.

He is also charged with failing to enter the missing parts into the plane's log book. The maximum penalty is a 90-day suspension of his license.

The government has also charged Laurentide Aviation of Les Cedres, which is owned by John Scholefield, for allowing the plane to fly when it was not airworthy. The company faces a license suspension of up to 68 days.

A Transport Safety Board report blamed the crash on the missing parts.

Scholefield testified yesterday his main priority is safety and that each day he inspects the maintenance records of his planes. He said, however, he could not remember if he saw anything wrong with the plane that crashed.

Scholefield also claimed a student who had filed a complaint about rudder problems on the same aircraft three days before the crash "regularly found problems" with his aircraft. He suggested the student was not cut out to be a pilot.

He was referring to an article in The Gazette in which a former Laurentide student said that on two separate occasions she found serious defects with Laurentide's planes. In one case, she said, she lost consciousness in the cockpit because of carbon monoxide.

Her mother, who was a passenger, managed to help her regain consciousness so she could land the plane. On another flight, she found the rudder had jammed.

This was the same plane, she said, that crashed three days after she had flown it. Inspectors found the plane's rudder had jammed, causing it to spin out of control.

Scholefield testified he encourages all his employees to put safety first.

"I tell them, 'If you have concern about the safety of an aircraft, don't fly it,' " he said.

The hearing ended yesterday and both sides will make written arguments to tribunal president Caroline Desbiens. She expects to hand down a judgment in the fall.

-- Rachel Gibson (, May 09, 2001

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