Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is recommending a process be established to update pilot medical requirements following a 2021 crash that may have been related to the pilot suffering a heart attack. The board has issued a recommendation to Transport Canada to ensure the handbook for Civil Aviation Medical Examiners (CAME) “contains the most effective screening tools for assessing medical conditions such as cardiovascular health issues.”
“The intent of the recommendation is for TC to come up with a means to ensure that Civil Aviation Medical Examiners have the most up-to-date guidance available,” said TSB spokesman Chris Krepski. He said improvements to cardiovascular screening were given as an example of how the system could be improved. The TSB says Transport Canada medical examiners are not required to conduct blood lipid screening tests that might have found risk factors in the pilot of the 2021 crash. It referenced a report published in 2019 that the consensus of aviation cardiologists from all over the world is that pilots older than 40 be screened for cardiological risk factors. About half of Canadian commercial pilots are older than 40.
The ATP-rated pilot died after the homebuilt Cavalier he was flying stalled and spun while on a sightseeing flight in Alberta. His passenger was seriously injured. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma but “with cardiovascular disease as a significant contributing factor,” the TSB report said. Due to COVID restrictions, the pilot’s most recent medical had been done virtually and involved an attestation that he was fit to fly. The board said it’s the eighth crash in the last 20 years in which undetected or unreported heart issues were raised in an investigation.