Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Human error led to crash

NNSL Photo

A runway incident three years ago was caused by human error, according to a recently-released report. A Hawker Siddeley 748 similar to this one skidded off Iqaluit Airport's runway after its pilot rejected a takeoff. - Robert Dall/NNSL photo

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 12/01) - A plane crash at Iqaluit airport three years ago was the result of human error, says a new report.

The First Air Hawker Siddeley 748 was 90 kilograms overweight, should have had its wings de-iced, and was not properly balanced, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The five-person board made its findings public last week, following a three-year investigation.

Board spokesperson Jim Harris said the report should be the last word on the incident. "There are no continuing safety concerns," he said.

He added that the findings of the board do not assign blame or liability.

"That's part of the act that we fall under," said Harris. "It's more important to find out what caused the incident. If you can find out what the deficiencies are, then you can make changes."

On the afternoon of Dec. 3, 1998, the First Air Hawker Siddeley prepared to take off from Iqaluit Airport en route to Iglulik, revved up its engines and headed down the runway.

It soon became evident there was ice on the wings, and that the plane would not lift off. With little than 1,000 metres of runway left, the pilot decided to abort the takeoff.

The Hawker was unable to stop before reaching the end of the runway, plowing through the airport's perimeter fence and tearing a large antenna completely from its concrete anchors.

The aircraft's flight attendant suffered minor shoulder injuries.

The pilot, first officer, loadmaster and three passengers were uninjured. According to the report, "the plane was substantially damaged."

The Hawker's pilot "rejected the takeoff at a speed well above the engine failure recognition speed with insufficient runway remaining to stop before the end of the runway," the report concludes.

Additionally, excess baggage had not been properly calculated, moving the plane's centre of gravity too far forward.

The initial emergency response to the crash was, "confused," according to the board. Firefighters responding to the call were initially unsure of where the plane had come to a halt.

Harris said that both First Air and the territorial government have taken steps since then to correct procedural shortcomings. Since the accident, First Air has given all cargo agents extra training, and is in the process of implementing a new weight and balance computer program.

The government re-opened the airport fire station and hired three firefighters in the wake of the accident.

First Air officials were not available for comment.