Clear rules needed after Toronto jet crash: probe
By Jonathan Spicer
TORONTO (Reuters) - Pilots need clear rules and better training on how to properly handle a landing in severe weather, a Canadian safety agency concluded on Wednesday, following its investigation into the crash two years ago of an Air France jetliner in a heavy Toronto thunderstorm.
The Canadian Transportation Safety Board said the crew of the Airbus A340 was "qualified and competent," but came in too high and too fast, and ran out of space on a slippery runway in August 2005.
The crew failed to calculate how much tarmac was needed to land the plane safely, investigators said. The aircraft caught fire after it overshot the runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and plunged into a small ravine.
All 297 passengers and 12 crew escaped down emergency chutes. No one died.
"If there were a clear standard for crews to know when they can't land in the face of a bad thunderstorm, then we feel that safety will be improved," said Real Levasseur, the board's chief investigator.
The board made seven recommendations on how to prevent such accidents in the future, noting that since the Toronto crash, 10 large airliners had gone off runways in bad weather around the world.
The recommendations include better training for pilots, a requirement that crews calculate safe landing distances, and at least 300 meters (330 yards) of safety area at the end of major Canadian runways.
The board also noted that several passengers grabbed carry-on luggage before evacuating the Air France plane, despite shouted instructions by crew to leave it behind. The board urged these instructions be included in a preflight briefing. Continued...