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Plane towing marriage proposal over Montreal lost power before fatal 2021 crash: report


An airplane towing a marriage proposal banner that crashed in Montreal lost power in its engine mid-flight, according to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) report issued Wednesday, more than a year after the incident.

In October, 2021, a plane flying a “Will you marry me?” banner crashed while flying over the Saint-Lawrence River. There were two people onboard – the pilot was seriously injured, while the passenger was unable to evacuate and died.

Prior to Wednesday, there were few details known publicly about what caused the plane to go down. However, an extensive federal report published Wednesday reveals the pilot had attempted to make an emergency landing after losing engine power.

Difficult weather conditions also played a part in the incident, the report reads.


The report outlines the moment that the engine sputtered and lost power.

The plane had only been in the air for about 15 minutes. However, the pilot had turned course back towards the South Shore airport it had taken off from because they were unable to climb to their planned altitude of 12,000 feet.

Shortly after passing Dieppe Park, the plane, travelling east over the river, repeatedly sputtered. The pilot released the banner in preparation for an emergency landing on the De La Concorde Bridge.

A map shows the flight path of a plane towing a "Will you marry me?" banner before it crashed in October, 2021. A Transport Services Canada report found the engine lost power, and the pilot was unable to make an emergency landing. (Map source: Google / Canada Transport Services, image collage: Luca Caruso-Moro, CTV News)

The pilot was forced to change course again after seeing concrete barriers on the bridge, indicating construction was underway, according to the report.

After realizing a safe landing on the bridge was impossible, the pilot lined up a second makeshift location: Pierre-Dupuy Ave.

It was during this manoeuvre that the pilot issued a MAYDAY distress call. In an attempt to line up to land on Pierre-Dupuy, the plane’s left wing grazed a series of treetops, pushing the aircraft into a cartwheel before crashing into the ground.

In less than a minute, a fire broke out. The pilot was seriously injured, but the passenger was unable to escape the burning aircraft.

No signal was detected from the emergency locator. Instead, bystanders phoned 911, and authorities arrived at the scene shortly after the crash.

A Cessna 172 crashed in Dieppe Park in Montreal on Oct. 2, 2021 killing one and injuring another.


The investigation found that rainy and overcast weather conditions contributed to ice building up in the plane's carburetor, forcing the pilot to fly at a lower altitude than originally planned.

The report says the pilot decided to take off despite knowing about the poor conditions, likely due to what the TSB calls "an unconscious cognitive bias" and pressure to complete the job on time.

"During flight planning, weather forecasts indicated unfavourable conditions," read the report. "However, the pilot decided to take off and proceed with the flight at an altitude of 500 feet above sea level."

The report said the pilot likely made that choice "under the influence of an unconscious cognitive bias and the time constraints to complete the flight."

-- Published with files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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