Canada TSB Urges Updates to Medical Examiner Guidelines

 - March 15, 2023, 12:04 PM
The crash of a TBM-3E used for fire-fighting spurred the TSB to examine deficiencies in the medical examiner guidelines for screening cardiovascular risks. (Photo: TSB)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is again calling for Transport Canada to improve civil aviation medical examiners’ guidelines following its investigation into the latest of eight aircraft accidents since 2000 where cardiovascular disease in pilots, some with commercial certificates, was identified as a risk or cause. 

After a Cavalier SA102.5 entered an aerodynamic stall and crashed in October 2021, killing the pilot, the Transport Canada office of the chief medical examiner in Alberta reported that the cause of death was attributed to blunt force trauma, “with cardiovascular disease as a significant contributing factor.” The report also noted that the pilot had evidence of a heart attack, although it was not possible to determine the exact time of this event.

The TSB issued its first recommendation concerning what it sees as deficiencies in the medical examiner guidelines for screening cardiovascular risks following its investigation of a loss of control and fatal crash of a TBM-3E fire-fighting airplane in April 2010.

“If Transport Canada guidance material and the civil aviation medical examination report do not include up-to-date cardiovascular screening methods to perform a global cardiovascular assessment when appropriate, there is an increased risk that cardiovascular disease will remain unidentified and pilots may become incapacitated while operating an aircraft,” the TSB said.