22 February 2010

Bush Caddy and the Aviation Safety Letter

COPA Flight 8 recently received a disturbing story about Bush Caddy manufacturer Canadian Light Aircraft Sales and Service (CLASS) and how they were unfairly maligned by the Transportation Safety Board with the help of Transport Canada's Aviation Safety Letter.

Unlike TC and the TSB I have checked these facts out with their originators and have received permission to post these items.

Notice from RAA
by Gary Wolf, President RAA

How many of you have read the 1-2010 issue of the Aviation Safety Letter? There was an article in it penned by an unidentified TSB author who had an axe to grind against amateur aircraft. His article described several structural failures in Bushcaddy aircraft that had resulted in fatalities.

BushCaddy was immediately inundated with phone calls and emails from angry customers who had read the article, especially the part that stated that the wing spars were undersize and that BushCaddy recommended changing the shear webs to .080" thick material.

The problem is that none of the planes in question were actually Bushcaddy's but the TSB author was so intent on making his point that he never checked the facts. There has never been a fatality in BushCaddy nor has there ever been a structural failure. The part about the heavier shear web was the opinion of the TSB author, but he has never identified himself nor has TSB stated whether he has any engineering credentials.

RAA contacted BushCaddy and then the editor of the Aviation Safety Letter to get to the bottom of this and found that the ASL editor had not checked any facts either. We then prevailed upon TSB to correct the situation, and upon the ASL to delete the offending article and in its place put a correction and an apology.

ASL removed the article two days ago and TSB rewrote the article but the damage has already been done to Bushcaddy. ASL intended to wait for the next quarterly issue to make the correction but that is nearly two months away, so we pressured them to write a correction and an apology, and to post these asap. For the sake of Bushcaddy I hope that this will happen this week.

If you hear of anyone slagging Bushcaddy please correct the person on this matter. Aviation is in a down market and this unconscionable mistake by TSB, compounded by inaction by the editor of the ASL, has seriously damaged a good Canadian manufacturer who does real engineering and testing on their products.

We have a right to expect accuracy from both TSB and the ASL and both entities have seriously compromised their credibility.

Sean Gilmore, CLASS President and Designer, writes about Gary Wolf's letter:

Yes unfortunately the facts are even worse than all that. Not only have they harmed our company and the Bush Caddy products but they have caused much unnecessary concern among CADI owners. CADI although they were pretty unsophisticated have produced a strong reliable product, many of them have flown for 10 years and more without so much as requiring a single replacement part. The L160 is perhaps the weak sister of the fleet, the wings in our judgment did require beefing up, this was our first major mod to the CADI design.

Notwithstanding however, the L160s built by CADI have been flying for years without mishap of a structural nature.The first incident referred to in the SL i.e. C-FYUB in 2003 has never been clearly shown to be the result of an in flight wing failure. We feel it was included in the article simply for effect. The question has to be asked, if it were an inflight failure why has it taken seven years for the TSB to report it as such.

The second incident however is a different matter, this aircraft had as told me by the owner, shown evidence of wing movement early on. To correct this movement the owner made a part of his own design. The part did stop the evidence of movement the owner however could not identify the cause of the movement. Neither CADI nor CLASS were made aware of the part change. This did fit the purpose of the SL but was ignored.

Another issue demonstrating the overall lack of focus in the SL is the inclusion of the Eco Flyer in the context of "Major Modification to Amateur Built Aircraft", this really baffles me. That aircraft was a prototype and first of its kind returning from Oshkosh and flown by the owner of the manufacturing company why include this at all? The impression I'm left with is, this letter represents an overall biased opinion with regards to Amateur Built Aircraft on the part of TSB and the care less attitude towards our industry by Transport. TC attempts to beg off from any responsibility, by its "we printed it as is" without editing "in good faith" sort of a National Inquirer approach to publishing.

And here is the response to all of this from Don Sherritt, Director, Standards, Transport Canada

Dear Mr. Gilmore

I am writing regarding the most recent issue of the Aviation Safety Letter (ASL). As the Director of Standards, I am responsible for the publication of Transport Canada's ASL.

The ASL is a key way of informing the aviation community of various aviation issues, including safety matters raised by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). Consequently, the reprinting of information such as the TSB's Aviation Safety Advisories has been a common practice.

The article titled "Major Modifications to Amateur Built Aircraft", printed in Aviation Safety Letter Issue 1/2010, was a direct reprint of the TSB's Aviation Safety Advisory A09Q0071-D1-A1. As such, its content was unedited by Transport Canada and was reprinted by the department in good faith.

After consulting with the TSB on this matter, the department acknowledges that none of the aircraft mentioned in the subject advisory and ASL article were actual Bush Caddy aircraft.

Due to the identified errors in the subject advisory and ASL article, Transport Canada has removed the article from all web versions of the ASL, and the next print edition will include a retraction notice.

Please be assured that we have taken all necessary actions to address this matter.

Don Sherritt
Director, Standards
Transport Canada


John Birrell said...

Having tonight received a phone call from a potential BushCaddy customer in Victoria, Australia, I have just become aware of this issue. As the owner/builder of Australia's highest hours flown BushCaddy (R80 19-4564 with 362 hours) I am appalled that a government agency can commit such a gross "stuff-up" as has occurred. I chose the BushCaddy kit because its engineering is obviously conservative, and in my flying experience this has been well proven. I have every faith in CLASS's product and sincerely hope that any damage done to Sean & Marlene's reputation will be addressed by the authority concerned.
Regards from Beetaloo Valley, Sth Australia
John Birrell

Anthony van Dyk said...

I have owned a BushCaddy for almost 10 years now. The very first thing that you will notice when you take a close look at a BushCaddy aircraft is the very sturdy construction.I wanted to own a plane that I felt very safe in. I definitely feel safe in the Bushcaddy,and would recommend this plane to anyone who is looking for a very sturdy built,good looking and good performing aircraft. When I read the article in the Aviation Safety Letter the first thing I thought was there has to be some kind of mistake. As it turns out there was a huge mistake and both the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada owe CLASS a lot more than an apology.If I ever do read the Aviation Safety Letter again I will always be wondering if what I am reading has any truth to it. Anthony van Dyk

Anonymous said...

Well now TSB has an aircraft to investigate, one crashed this weekend east of Belleville,Ontario killing the pilot-owner.My best regards to the Wood's family and friends.

Unknown said...

The irony: Bushcaddy doesn't want people to make the connection that the Delisle CADI aircraft are related to theirs in any way, and yet there are 7 of them shown on the Bushcaddy website, where they are used to advertise different current models in the Bushcaddy lineup. Run the registrations through the Civil Aircraft Register and you'll see...

Adam Hunt said...

Well to be fair the company has gone through three owners since the accident aircraft was built and the design of the R-80 has changed considerably. On top of that I haven't sen any indication that this accident was related to the design in the media reports. Does anyone have other information on it?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

(sorry, had the wrong registration the first time... C-G instead of C-F)

According to reports, the accident aircraft was C-FSLO, which was a "Delisle CADI". That's all i've got.

Oh, and the aircraft in the photo at the top of this article is also registered as a Delisle CADI. :)

Adam Hunt said...

Yes indeed, the Civil Aircraft Register shows the accident aircraft as being made in 1994, which makes it a "Delisle" and not a later "CLASS"" or "Bushcaddy Aircraft Canada" kit.

Again there is no indication that I have seen in the media reports that this accident was in anyway a design issue or even a construction issue. Of course the vast majority of aviations accidents are due to pilot cause factors, but we need more information on what happened in this case.