Helicopter rescues crew, scientists from ice off Ellesmere Island
Five in Kenn Borek Twin Otter unhurt
Updated May 11, 5:23 p.m.
A helicopter plucked five people from the ice off the tip of Ellesmere Island yesterday after their Twin Otter aircraft broke through sea ice while landing.
The Kenn Borek Twin Otter was conducting a survey flight when it landed on the ice 165 kilometres north of Alert. The plane’s right ski broke through the ice, triggering an evacuation of two crew members and three scientists. No one was hurt.
“All the occupants were moved away from the broken ice surface and they set up a camp, called up the base in Resolute Bay and two hours later a helicopter came to rescue the people aboard the Twin Otter,” said Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board.
Officials are ruling out weather as a cause. According to a Transport Canada incident report, the Twin Otter was “about 50 per cent submerged when the occupants were picked up.”
Sean Loutitt, Kenn Borek’s vice president, operations, said the captain of the plane had more than 10,000 hours of flight experience and followed the company’s emergency procedures.
The pilot performed a “ski-drag”—a pass where the skis skim the ice to test the consistency—before attempting the landing, and everything seemed fine.
“We do a lot of these landings every year,” Loutitt said from the company’s head office in Calgary
Loutitt said crews haven’t been able to get back to the area to see if the plane is still above water.
“As long as it’s above the ice we can rescue it,” he said. “Once it hits the bottom of the ocean it’s a little hard.”
Krepski said the TSB likely won’t investigate the incident because there was no human error or mechanical problems with the aircraft.