Date & Time: Aug 20, 2011 at 1142 LT
Type of aircraft:
Boeing 737-200
Operator:
Registration:
C-GNWN
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Yellowknife - Resolute Bay - Grise Fiord
MSN:
21067/414
YOM:
1975
Flight number:
FAB6550
Country:
Canada
Crew on board:
4
Crew fatalities:
4
Pax on board:
11
Pax fatalities:
8
Other fatalities:
0
Total fatalities:
12
Circumstances:
On final approach to Resolute Bay in poor weather conditions, while descending on an ILS procedure to runway 35T, aircraft hit the ground and disintegrated 1,8 km north of the airport. Three passengers were seriously injured while all 12 other occupants were killed. At the time of the accident, visibility was established to 5 miles with drizzle, fog and ceiling at 300 feet. Without visual contact with the ground, captain elected to make a go around manoeuvre but aircraft hit the ground two seconds later at the speed of 157 knots. At impact, landing gear were down and locked with flaps at 40 degrees. To date, worst accident involving a First Air plane since its creation in 1946 and worst crash in Nunavut.
Probable cause:
Still under investigation. Up to date, the following data are available:
In the hours before the accident, the weather in Resolute Bay was variable with fluctuations in visibility and cloud ceiling. Forty minutes before the accident, the visibility was 10 miles in light drizzle with an overcast ceiling at 700 feet above ground level (agl). A weather observation taken shortly after the accident, reported visibility of 5 miles in light drizzle and mist with an overcast ceiling of 300 feet agl.
The weather conditions required the crew to conduct an instrument approach using the aircraft flight and navigation instruments. The crew planned to conduct an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to Runway 35T. This instrument approach provides guidance down to weather minimums of 1⁄2 mile visibility and a ceiling of 200 feet agl.
The crew initiated a go-around 2 seconds before impact. At this time, the flaps were set to position 40, the landing gear was down and locked, the speed was 157 knots and the final landing checklist was complete.
Another aircraft successfully completed an ILS approach to Runway 35T approximately 20 minutes after the accident. NAV CANADA conducted a flight check of the ground based ILS equipment on 22 August 2011; it was reported as serviceable.
The Resolute Bay Airport is normally an uncontrolled airport (no Air Traffic Controllers). A temporary military control zone had been established to accommodate the increase in air traffic resulting from Operation Nanook, a military exercise taking place at the time. Information from the military radars that had been installed for the exercise was retrieved for TSB analysis.
The technical examination of the aircraft at the accident site revealed no pre-impact problems. Analysis of the flight data recorder information and examination of the engines at the site indicate the engines were operating and developing considerable power at the time of the accident. Analysis of the aircraft flight and navigational instruments is ongoing.
Currently, the TSB is classifying this occurrence as a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident. CFIT occurs when an airworthy aircraft under the control of the flight crew is flown unintentionally into terrain, obstacles or water, usually with no prior awareness by the crew. CFIT is one of the issues identified in the TSB Watchlist.
Investigation Activities in Progress