Calgary family pushes for enhanced glider safety measures

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WATCH ABOVE: The family of Adam Leinweber, an 18-year-old student pilot who was killed in a glider crash in 2019, is petitioning the federal government for mandatory collision avoidance systems in all gliders and tow planes across Canada. Michael King reports – Nov 9, 2020

A Calgary family whose son died in a glider crash in 2019 is petitioning the federal government to do more to protect pilots and improve safety.

Allan Wood, an experienced pilot and instructor, and 18-year-old student Adam Leinweber were flying near the Cu Nim Gliding Club on July 26 when the glider they were in crashed with the tow plane that led them into the sky.

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the tow plane radioed to the glider to do some bank turns — which investigators determined wasn’t part of the plan before the crews took off.

Just 34 seconds after the glider was released, the tow plane’s propeller struck the tail of the glider and the stabilizers broke off.

Read more: Soaring club temporarily closes after 2 killed in glider crash near Black Diamond, Alberta

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The TSB found the tow plane had a collision-avoidance system installed, but it had been intermittent or not working at all throughout most of 2019.

The system calculates and broadcasts the aircraft’s position to nearby planes while also gathering data on other aircrafts’ flight paths, according to the TSB. It then predicts the collision risk for each aircraft.

Leinwebers family is now petitioning the federal government to mandate collision-avoidance systems on all gliders and tow planes across Canada.

Bradley Leinweber – Adam’s father – is hoping to see operational collision-avoidance systems installed as a mandatory safety feature.

“(The systems) will give a visible and audible signal if there is a danger of collision,” he said.

“We believe that had that system been working and maintained… Adam and his instructor Allan would still be alive today.”

Read more: Untimely release, faulty safety software were factors in fatal southern Alberta glider crash

Transport Canada said in a brief statement that it does not plan on making the systems mandatory.

“Transport Canada is not currently working on any changes to Civil Aviation Regulations in this regard,” said a spokesperson for Transport Canada.

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“At present, the Canadian Aviation Regulations do not mandate the equipage of Airborne Collision Avoidance Systems on private facilities, gliders, and tow planes.”

Bradley Leinweber said the systems usually cost around $2,000 and are easy to install.

“Just put in the aviation recommendations. Gliders and tow planes… are flying in close proximity,” he said.

“Most of the gliders across Canada are equipped with it already — let’s make it mandatory.”

The petition currently has more than 200 signatures and is sponsored by Len Webber, the MP for Calgary-Confederation.

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