March 18, 2017 6:37 pm
Updated: March 19, 2017 9:31 am

‘Are you listening?’: Air traffic controller tries to warn pilot moments before crash in Saint-Bruno

WATCH: Investigation into fatal airplane crash continues. Felicia Parrillo reports.


Moments before two small airplanes collided in the skies above a shopping centre in St-Bruno, an air traffic controller can be heard warning one of the pilots of nearby traffic.

“Papa November Papa, make sure you maintain 1,600 feet. Traffic ten o’clock. One mile,” said the controller.

Papa November Papa appears to be a signal referring to one of the pilots.

The controller tells the pilot to maintain an altitude of 1,600 feet.

He also warns him another aircraft was one mile ahead.

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When the controller received no response, he repeated his warning.

But still, only silence on the other end.

“Papa November Papa, are you listening?” he asks.

Witnesses said the accident sounded like an earthquake at the moment of the planes’ impact.

READ MORE: 1 dead, 1 injured after planes collide over Montreal south shore shopping mall

One of the planes crashing into the parking lot, while another crashed onto the roof of the mall.

Both airplanes were owned by Cargair, a Saint-Hubert flight school, located about seven kilometres from the site of the accident.

On Saturday, Cargair’s president and owner spoke out about the tragedy.

“It seems that someone did not respect the altitude instructions given by the ATC,” Josée Prud’homme said. “That’s the only fact that we have in hand right now.”

Cargair trains over 200 pilots a year, with around 140 of those students coming from China.

The company confirmed both pilots involved in the accident were Chinese.

Cargair said the 21-year-old pilot who died in the crash had 40 hours of flying experience under his belt, while the 23-year-old, who remains in hospital, had around 140 hours completed.

The company’s staff is dealing with the aftermath of such an incident, Prud’homme said.

“We have the help of a psychologist,” she said. “He’ll be at the office Monday to meet everyone, the students and the staff, to make sure that we can start our operation slowly but surely.”

Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board told Global News they finished their work at the scene Friday evening.

They said they will be conducting further interviews and sending what is left of the two planes back to labs in Ottawa in order to determine what went wrong.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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