First Air crash probe investigators looks at de-icing

It will take at least a year for investigators to finish looking at the cause of a Hawker Siddley 748 near Iqaluit last December.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Six Canadian and five British engineers continue to probe the cause of a plane crash near Iqaluit last December in which First Air flight 802 careered into the tundra following an aborted takeoff.

“This will take, I can tell you, at least a year,” Mark Fernandez, senior investigator with the federal Transport Safety Board said this week.

“We are really working hard on that, and I can tell you it’s a pu le.”

Despite achieving speeds in excess of 115 knots, the pilot of the Hawker Siddley 748, bound for Igloolik and Hall Beach with cargo and passengers on Dec 3, was unable to lift the plane off the runway.

The pilot tried, but was unable to brake the plane, which finally bounced to a stop several hundred metres from the north end of the runway. No one was seriously injured.

A review of aircraft maintenance records has since satisfied the investigating team that lift-off failure was not the result of poor maintenance, Fernandez said.

“We didn’t find anything wrong with the aircraft. The aircraft was in top shape, it was airworthy and it was well-maintained,” he said.

Investigators have now focused their attention on several other factors, such as the amount of snow on the runway at the time of the accident, ice accumulation on the plane’s wings, the way in which the aircraft payload was configured and flight control operations.

“I foresee a good lesson, especially for how people should use de-icing equipment prior to flights, and in what conditions they should use it,” Fernandez said.

A team of four engineers with the National Research Centre in Ottawa has been dedicated full time to the case. The plane’s British manufacturer, Hawker Siddley, has assigned five engineers to the crash investigation, as well.

They are all working in conjunction with First Air and two lead engineers attached to the Transport Safety Board’s laboratory.

“The cause of the accident will be revealed by the [Transport Safety] Board when every party involved into the investigation agree on what we find,” Fernandez said.

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