Pilot error factor in 2014 crash landing of small passenger plane in N.W.T.
John Cotter, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 24, 2016 7:16PM EDT
EDMONTON -- A report says pilot errors were a factor in the crash landing of a small passenger plane onto the frozen surface of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.
No one onboard the Air Tindi Cessna 208 Caravan was hurt in the Nov. 20, 2014, crash in which the pilot and five passengers had to wait for hours in sub-zero temperatures to be rescued.
Transportation Safety Board investigators say the pilot misjudged icing conditions, the aircraft was too heavy and its load wasn't correctly balanced. The report says these factors reduced the plane's ability to climb and increased its stall speed.
"The pilot's inaccurate situational awareness led to his decision to continue operation of the aircraft in icing conditions that exceeded the aircraft's performance capabilities," says the report released Thursday.
"The severity of the icing conditions encountered and the duration of the exposure resulted in reductions in aerodynamic performance, making it impossible to prevent descent of the aircraft."
Investigators also found shortcomings with passenger briefing procedures and that survival equipment was not accessible.
The board says since the crash Air Tindi has improved its pilot training and safety procedures.
The report says the survival skills of the crew and passengers, who managed to light a fire on a nearby island, were indispensable in a situation in which they couldn't get to the plane's survival gear.
Air Tindi President Al Martin said it was a good, factual report and noted the company has been working to improve since the crash, including temporarily grounding its aircraft fleet for a safety review.
"Our focus has been on providing more support for the pilots and making our systems and procedures more robust," he said.
Martin also praised the pilot, who managed to bring the aircraft down safely, and the passengers who worked together to survive following the crash.
"He did an incredible job given the circumstances," he said. "They did an incredible job to look after each other and stay safe. It was brilliant."
After they were rescued, the five passengers issued a statement in which they called the crash "horrific" and "traumatic."
The plane was en route to Fort Simpson from Yellowknife. Poor weather delayed other aircraft from immediately responding to the crash.
RCMP were the first to reach the plane in an all-terrain vehicle.