Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

April 11, 2006 14:00 ET

The TSB Identifies Excessive Weight, Icing Conditions, and a Combination of Stress and Fatigue as the Causes of the Fatal Plane Accident at Pelee Island

GATINEAU, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - April 11, 2006) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its final report (A04H0001) into the crash of a Georgian Express Ltd. Cessna 208B Caravan aircraft off Pelee Island, Ontario, on January 17, 2004. All 10 people on board perished in the accident.

Investigators discovered that, at take-off, the weight of the aircraft exceeded the maximum allowable gross take-off weight by at least 15 per cent and that the aircraft was contaminated with ice. Therefore, the aircraft was being flown significantly outside the limitations under which it was certified for safe flight. The investigation also revealed that the aircraft stalled too low to allow recovery before it struck the ice surface of Lake Erie. The Board concluded that, on this flight, the pilot's decision to take off was likely adversely affected by some combination of stress and fatigue.

In October 2004, the Board issued two recommendations to Transport Canada (TC), the first one requiring that actual passenger weights be used for small aircraft involved in commercial or air taxi operations. In its response to this recommendation, TC indicated that it continued to review the standards and that one of the options under consideration was to require the use of actual passenger weights. The TSB is concerned that the length of time required to change the standard could be excessive. The Board also recommended a re-evaluation of the standard weights for passengers and carry-on baggage to reflect the current realities. TC indicated that it had re-evaluated the standard weights for passengers and carry-on baggage and adjusted them for all aircraft.

Also, on January 31, 2006, using information from this investigation and as part of the ongoing investigation into the fatal accident that occurred in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on October 6, 2005, the TSB issued safety recommendations regarding Cessna 208 series aircraft flying in icing conditions. The Board recommended that TC take action to restrict the dispatch of Canadian Cessna 208, 208A, and 208B aircraft into forecast icing conditions exceeding "light" and to prohibit the continued operation in these conditions, until the airworthiness of the aircraft to operate in such conditions was demonstrated. The Board also recommended that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) take action to revise the certification of these aircraft to prohibit flight into such conditions.

On January 17, 2004, the Georgian Express Ltd. Cessna 208B Caravan was on a flight from Pelee Island to Windsor, Ontario, with one pilot and nine passengers on board. The aircraft used most of the 3300-foot runway for the take-off run. It then climbed out at a very shallow angle while turning north over the frozen surface of Lake Erie toward Windsor. The aircraft struck the surface of the lake approximately 1.6 nautical miles from the departure end of the runway. The pilot and all nine passengers on board were killed.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

This communique is available on the TSB Web site at

Contact Information

  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada
    John Cottreau
    Senior Media Relations Advisor
    (819) 994-8053
    Transportation Safety Board of Canada
    Christian Plouffe
    Media Relations Advisor
    (819) 953-7812