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Pilot Convicted of Criminal Negligence

Nov. 5, 2007, Winnipeg, Man. - A pilot responsible for a dramatic plane crash at a busy Winnipeg street five years ago had no reasonable excuse for running out of fuel, a judge said in a 69-page ruling made public Friday.


November 5, 2007
By Dean Pritchard

Nov. 5, 2007, Winnipeg, Man. – A pilot responsible for a dramatic plane crash at a
busy Winnipeg street five years ago had no reasonable excuse for
running out of fuel, a judge said in a 69-page ruling made public
Friday.

Mark Tayfel, 42, had been convicted Thursday of criminal
negligence causing death, four counts of criminal negligence causing
bodily harm and one count of dangerous operation of an aircraft.

At his trial, Tayfel, a former pilot with Keystone Air, argued he
committed a “mistake of fact'' and should not be held criminally
responsible for the crash.

Tayfel blamed the crash on faulty fuel gauges. He said he
inspected the plane's gauges before take-off at Gunisao Lake Lodge
in northern Manitoba and believed he had plenty of fuel for the
return trip to Winnipeg.

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But Justice Holly Beard ruled a “reasonable and prudent'' pilot
would have taken other steps to ensure there was enough fuel on
board.

“I have found that the accused's belief that he had 850 pounds
of fuel and that he could make the flight safely were not
reasonable,'' she wrote.

“His various explanations sound more like after-the-fact
justifications for his very hasty estimate as to the amount of fuel
on board rather than any attempt to make the considered calculation
expected of a reasonable and prudent person.''

Six American passengers were aboard the twin-engine plane when it
crashed at the intersection of Logan Avenue and McPhillips Street in
June 2002. Chester Jones, a 79-year-old Kansas resident, died of his
injuries three months later.

Tayfel, who now works as a dispatcher for an air transport
company in Calgary, was “extremely disappointed'' with the ruling,
said his lawyer Belfour Der.

“He's a very stoic, quiet person. He's taking it like a man,
let's put it that way.''

Der said it's too early to consider an appeal.

“What happens at the sentencing will influence what happens in
the future, if anything,'' he said.

A date for sentencing has not been set.

Source: The Canadian Press


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