French pilot sentenced after accidentally killing skydiver with plane’s wing during jump

FRANCE - FEBRUARY 18:  Disappearance of the jogger Patricia Bouchon In Bouloc, France On February 18, 2011-The researchers continue the investigations but it seems like there isnt any sign of life of Patricia Bouchon the 49 year-old jogger since Monday. Interrogate the neighbors, survey of water points, sweep wooded areas, three hundred men were engaged by the police of Haute-Garonne leave nothing to chance in this investigation of kidnapping, sequestration and voluntary violences.  (Photo by AKSARAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The accident took place over the town of Bouloc, southwestern France.AKSARAN/Gamma-Rapho/Getty ImagesParisCNN — 

A 64-year-old French pilot has been given a one-year suspended prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter after being found guilty of killing a skydiver with his plane’s wing during a jump, a criminal court in Montauban, southern France, confirmed to CNN Thursday.

The incident happened in July 2018 over the small town of Bouloc, near the city of Toulouse in the country’s southwest, according to an investigation report published by the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety in 2020.

“A collision occurred between the first wingsuit skydiver and the aircraft’s left wing, a few seconds after he jumped out of the plane. The wingsuit skydiver died upon impact,” the report said.

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The Swiss-made Pilatus PC-6 aircraft was carrying 10 skydivers and one coach, and the 40-year-old male victim was the first to jump out of the plane, according to the report.

The pilot thought he had moved away from the skydivers’ descent path after doing a left turn, but only seconds later, he felt a heavy shock “and realized that he had hit one of the skydivers,” the report said.

The second skydiver was wearing a camera, which filmed the whole process of the crash, according to the report.

Several factors could have contributed to the crash, including a lack of on-board briefing between the skydivers and the pilot, and the aircraft’s immediate steep descent, controlled by the pilot who did not have visual contact with the wingsuit skydivers.

The pilot, who was 58 years old at the time of the accident, was flying alone that day, in breach of his medical certificate, which prohibited him from flying solo, according to the report.

The Midi-Pyrénées Skydiving School Association, which organized the event and employed the pilot at the time, told the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety that they had amended their documentation and applied recommended measures, record shows.

The pilot has also been given a one-year flying ban by the court.

Between 2015 and 2020, 13 people died during wingsuit skydives in France, according to a report by the National Mountain Safety Observation System.

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