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Collision between a lawn mower and a plane: an unfortunate accident, according to the coroner

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The accident that cost Carol-Ann's life Deschênes performed on July 5, 2021 at the Saint-Esprit aerodrome, in Lanaudière.

  • Amélie Mouton (View profile)Amélie Mouton

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The death of Carol-Ann Deschênes at the Saint-Esprit aerodrome in July 2021, following a collision between the lawn tractor she she was driving and a plane in landing protocol, is the result of a “confluence of circumstances” linked both to an “unfortunate distraction” of the young mother and to a “limited vision of the pilot”, concluded the coroner in charge of the investigation.

In his report, dated December 11, 2023, Pierre Bélisle reviews in detail the course of events which led to the tragic accident.

Ms. Deschênes was struck by the wing of a plane which was in landing protocol at the Saint-Esprit aerodrome, in Lanaudière, while she was driving a tractor lawn on the single track.

This private aerodrome is leased and operated by the Parachute Montreal club.

The pilot of the plane involved in the accident, a single-engine Nanchang, had previously communicated with the pilot of the plane of the skydiving club to ensure that there were no skydivers jumping before landing.

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When the Nanchang landed, “a lawn tractor carrying out maintenance on the aerodrome crossed runway 20 very close to the target point intended by the pilot and began a left turn to mow the grass parallel to the track,” indicated the report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in March 2022.

The club pilot replied that' he himself was about to land. The two pilots then decided to land one after the other, so that they could share a meal at the airport. They had agreed on an interval of one minute between the two landings.

Two circumstances then led to the tragedy. The Nanchang, which held the required authorizations to fly and did not present any anomalies, had a configuration defect which caused visibility limits for the pilot when initiating the landing, indicates the coroner's report. /p>LoadingCatch-up from the end of January for all Quebec students who need it

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Even if he felt a shock from the right wing, It was only when he got out of his aircraft that the pilot realized that he had hit a lawn tractor with a person on board. At no time had he seen them, he explains.

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A Transportation Safety Board map shows the threshold of Runway 20, the target point intended by the pilot, the point of collision, the final position of the lawn tractor, that of the plane and the landing area of ​​the parachutists.

The airline pilot and instructor had accumulated more than 1,300 flight hours on the Nanchang and was very familiar with the Saint-Esprit runway. There is no evidence to question his state of health, the document also specifies.

Carol-Ann Deschênes, for her part, replaced that day her spouse, main shareholder of the company responsible for mowing the grass at the Saint-Esprit aerodrome, called elsewhere for a contract. This was the third time she had carried out this task at this specific location. She was not wearing headphones or earphones.

Noting that the first plane had landed, she believed that she could safely go to the runway to carry out her work, unaware that a second aircraft was preparing to land.

No one saw her heading towards the runway and this was just when the Nanchang was landing and the pilot's visibility did not allow him to see her, relates the coroner who therefore concludes that it was an unfortunate combination of circumstances.

In March 2022, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) published its investigation into the accident, calling for more coordination and vigilance so that activities in aerodromes can take place in complete safety.

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