FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS TO VISIT PLANE CRASH SCENE
KAMLOOPS - Teenagers in B.C. can't get behind the wheel of a car until they are 16 years old, but if they're eager to take the driver's seat, they can get a student pilot permit to operate an aeroplane when they're just 14.
Unlike the 16-year-old drivers with an 'L' sign on B.C. roads, a pilot of the same age can even fly solo. These are some of the strange regulations we are learning after 16-year-old Lorne Perreault of Kamloops died this week when his plane crashed during a solo flight.
According to Transport Canada, for a student pilot to get a permit to fly solo, they need only: Proof of age and citizenship, proof of medical fitness, fee payment, and proof of having met knowledge, experience and skill requirements. Transport Canada spokesperson Sara Johnston said in an email that each pilot requires different amounts of time for on-the-ground training to demonstrate flying competency without assistance.
Of course, flying competency is at the discretion of the instructor. Eddy Yu, dispatcher at the Professional Flight School in Vancouver said student pilots are given the go ahead to fly solo after permission from their instructor, based on a checklist of requirements.
"It's very regulated to the point where you can only go out when your instructor allows you to go out," Yu said. "It's definitely a regular standard."
TylAir Aviation, where Perreault was training, has been in operation for just three months. It's now part of a standard investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada following Perreault's death.
On its website, the facility at Fulton Field in Kamloops promotes a 'hands-on flight school, pilot training centre, plane rental centre, and pilot supplies shop.'
"Gone are the days of aviation only being for the privileged few. If you can come in and spend 20 minutes with us, we will show you how affordable and convenient it is to earn your wings," the website says.
TylAir Aviation director David Cruz would not detail Perreault's experience, citing privacy issues, but he did say Perreault had about 90 hours of experience including time as a solo pilot, where no problems arose.
According to Transport Canada, the training facility holds a valid Flight Training Operator Certificate that was issued on May 7 of this year — three months before Perreault died. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada along with B.C. Coroners Service are investigating Perreault's death as well as the flight school.
"We have two investigators who are on their way out to the area today," said board spokesperson Chris Krepski. "They're supposed to be arriving by the end of the day."
Krepski was unaware of any potential history or infractions by the local aviation training facility, but he said it's part of the course for any type of investigation.
"We would interview people from the company to find out more," he said.
Krepski said investigators will attend the accident scene and gather preliminary data, a process that takes one to three days. From the data, the board determines whether a full investigation is launched, which would take at least a year depending on severity according to Krepski.
This video was posted by Lorne Perreault to Facebook, entitled
'Kamloops (CYKA) Landing' in September 2012. Perreault wrote: 'This was the final leg of my cross-country flight from Kamloops - Vernon - Salmon Arm - Kamloops, and perhaps my last unless the weather holds.'
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