April 1, 2016 – The aircraft carrying former MP Jean Lapierre had been cleared to approach the runway at a Quebec airport before it crashed, investigators said Friday.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the aircraft was cleared for an instrument approach on a misty, rainy afternoon near the Iles-de-la-Madeleine airport, shortly before it smashed into a hill nearby. The aircraft skidded 91 metres from the point of initial impact, and the wreckage was contained in a 150-metre square area, according to initial findings.
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An instrument approach involves relying on an aircraft’s instruments to reach the runway, in instances when clouds or weather make it difficult to visually navigate.
The exact cause of the crash is not known at this time, and all information at this point is considered preliminary.
Lapierre, a former Liberal MP-turned-political commentator, was killed in the crash on Tuesday along with his wife, his two brothers, his sister and two pilots.
The pilot was Pascal Gosselin, and co-pilot, Fabrice Labourel.
A joint funeral for six members of the Lapierre family will take place Friday, April 8 on the Magdalen Islands.
The TSB says it has wrapped up its initial examination of the crash site, and is now in the process of transporting the wreckage to a lab in Ottawa for further analysis. Eyewitnesses have also been interviewed, and investigators will now turn their attention to analyzing maintenance records, pilot training records and air traffic communications from the time of the collision.
According to preliminary findings, the aircraft’s engines were producing power, and the aircraft was “near wings level in a slight nose-high attitude at impact,” the TSB said in a statement.
The plane was not outfitted with a black box flight recorder, but investigators are looking to retrieve a GPS tracking device they believe was installed on the aircraft. Investigators said such a device would have voice-recording capability, though it likely would have been damaged or destroyed in the crash.
Andre Turenne, the TSB’s senior investigator on the case, said his team also plans to look into the design and history of the MU-2 aircraft involved in the crash.
“The investigation will examine previous occurrences with this type of aircraft,” he told reporters on Friday.
Turenne said a high number of accidents take place during the approach-and-landing stage of flight.
The TSB hopes to release a report into the crash within the year, he said.
“The entire process will be lengthy, but we owe it to the people and the families of those involved in the accident to conduct a thorough investigation,” Turenne said.
A plane headed for the Magdalen Islands from Quebec City was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday evening at an airport on Quebec’s Gaspé coast.
One of the passengers, Denis Fréchette, is the brother-in-law of Jean Lapierre, the political commentator and former Liberal cabinet minister who was among seven killed in a plane crash on Tuesday.
Fréchette was on his way to join his wife Laure Lapierre, who was already in the Magdalen Islands.
Tuesday’s crash took the lives of Jean Lapierre, his sister and two brothers. Laure Lapierre is now the only surviving sibling.
Yani Gagnon, of Pascan Aviation, said the crew noticed there was a problem with an engine as the twin-turboprop, British Aerospace Jetstream began its descent into Bonaventure Airport.
“The settings in the engine showed a loss of power and according to the protocol, which was followed to the letter, an emergency engine shutdown was initiated as a precaution,” Gagnon told Radio-Canada.
Lapierre graduates from the University of Ottawa law school, and is elected to the House of Commons representing the riding of Shefford, Que. He is 23. “I am… dedicated to keeping the country united and strong,” Lapierre says in his maiden speech to the House.
In 1992Lapierre leaves federal politics and joins the French-language radio station CKAC and French-language television station TQS as a political commentator.
In 2004 Paul Martin takes over the Liberal Party and recruits Lapierre. He is elected as the MP of Outremont in the 2004 election. Martin names Lapierre as his transport minister.
In 2007 Lapierre resigns from federal politics, again. He joins French-language television network TVA.
In 2014 with Chantal Hébert, Lapierre publishes The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was. The books wins the QWF Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction and is a national best-seller.
2016 Lapierre’s father, Raymond, dies in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine at the age of 83. Lapierre heads back to his birthplace on a chartered flight with several family members the following day. All seven people onboard are killed when the plane crashes while attempting to land.