Safety regulations oversight key factor in Joyce jet crash

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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GATINEAU, Que. - Ineffective oversight of safety regulations was a key factor behind a jet crash two years ago in Nova Scotia that left 10 people injured, including Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce, the Transportation Safety Board concludes in a final report Tuesday.

The independent agency found private aircraft operators regulated by the Canadian Business Aviation Association were not held to the same standard as commercial airlines regulated by Transport Canada.

The federal department transferred regulatory responsibility for some aviation operators to the private association in 2003, then failed to exercise effective oversight, the board said.

While Transport Canada requires commercial airlines to implement safety systems on a fixed timeline, the association was not held to any deadlines, the board found.

``This is a serious problem,' board member Kathy Fox said in a statement.

``Safety can be compromised when ... deadlines are flexible, and critical oversight is lacking.'

The safety board is recommending the association set ``implementation milestones' that must be audited by Transport Canada.

Joyce suffered two fractured vertebrae when his new Bombardier (TSX:BBD.A) Global 5000 crashed just short of the private runway at his Fox Harb'r Golf Resort and Spa near Wallace, N.S., on Nov. 11, 2007.

The plane was flying through high winds and rain when the right landing gear collapsed as it struck a lip of pavement, causing the jet to skid on its belly for 300 metres.

The board's report also found that many pilots were unaware of the limitations of the ground-based guidance systems known as glide slope indicators.

The indicators use light beams to show pilots when they are too high or too low when coming in for a landing.

Even though pilots must know the distance between the cockpit and the landing gear to determine which guidance system they can use, that information is not always available, the board said.

Before the crash, Joyce was en route from Hamilton with his son Steven, two crew and six other passengers.

The plane was operated by Hamilton-based Jetport, a charter flight company controlled by Joyce, who is originally from Tatamagouche, N.S.

Both the pilot and co-pilot spent time in hospital after the crash. Joyce underwent surgery less than a week later.

The new jet was delivered to the resort a month before the crash with fewer than 100 hours of flying time.

The Fox Harb'r resort is an exclusive, gated community located along the Northumberland Strait. It features a golf course, skeet shooting, a deepwater marina and a secluded beach.

Joyce, himself a pilot, had said he didn't get the sense that anything was wrong with the flight until the plane smashed into the pavement.

``It's a little more spectacular with airplanes, but it's like a motor vehicle accident,' Joyce said in an earlier interview.

``I don't know what happened ... it scared the hell out of me.'

The former Hamilton police officer started the Tim Hortons chain (TSX:THI) in 1964 with NHL defenceman Tim Horton. Joyce sold his interest to Wendy's International Inc. in 1995.

Organizations: Transport Canada, Tim Hortons, Transportation Safety Board TSX Canadian Business Aviation Association Bombardier Fox Harb'r Golf Resort Jetport NHL Wendy's International Inc.

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Wallace, Tatamagouche

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