Multiple distractions prior to takeoff and pilot error contributed to the death of a hang-gliding passenger in B.C.’s Fraser Valley in April, according to an investigation report.
The Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada reported late Wednesday on the results of its investigation into the death of Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, who was a passenger on a fatal flight with pilot Jon Orders.
“The investigation concluded that the passenger’s harness was not connected to the glider on takeoff. The required 'hang-check' (or any other suitable method of harness/glider connection test) was not performed prior to the pilot committing to takeoff,” the association said.
Godinez-Avila plunged about 300 metres to the ground shortly after takeoff April 28.
The association said its investigation has ruled out any possibility of equipment failure in the tragedy.
Orders and the pilot of another hang-glider that was about to take off with Godinez-Avila’s boyfriend were each involved in checking the other’s equipment, but the crucial step was still missed, the association said.
“The investigation concludes that the dynamics of multiple passengers and instructors may be the key to understanding why the critical pre-launch procedures were not performed,” it said.
“The unusual aspect of a second pilot instructor being present for the event makes it is difficult to understand how the multiple phases of the pre-flight were missed by both pilots.”
The association said the findings of its investigation were based on witness statements and evidence held by the RCMP.
Orders is expected to appear in a Chilliwack, B.C., court next April on charges of obstructing justice for allegedly swallowing a memory card thought to be related to the incident.
RCMP later reported that no images useful to the investigation were recovered from the memory card.