Two pilots involved in a mid-air collision over St-Bruno-de-Montarville last year didn’t respect altitude restrictions, according to a new Transportation Safety Board report on the incident.

Both pilots deviated from altitude restrictions put in place by air traffic control, just before colliding and neither pilot saw the other aircraft in time to avoid the accident.

The crash, which involved two flying school aircraft, occurred in the early afternoon of March 17, 2017. One of the pilots was piloting a Cessna 152, returning to the Montreal/St-Hubert airport at the end of a training flight. According to the report, that pilot descended to about 100 feet below his altitude restriction.

At the same time, a student pilot, also flying a Cessna 152, was leaving the airport for a training flight. He ascended to 400 feet above his own restriction. 

The two aircraft collided 1,500 feet over the Promenades St-Bruno shopping centre near the airport. One of the aircraft struck the roof of the mall and its pilot sustained serious injuries. The other plane crashed in the parking lot. The pilot of the second plane died in the crash.

"We believe the pilot who descended by 100 feet saw the other plane because he started a right turn, but it was too late," said TSB spokesperson Jean-Marc Ledoux. 

According to the report, neither pilot spoke English or French as their first language, though both were capable of speaking English at a level consistent with international guidelines for aeronautical radio communications.

The report noted that the St-Hubert airport has become more heavily trafficked due to its popularity with flight school students. It advised all pilots who fly out of the site to remain vigilant at all times.