WINNIPEG — Investigators have eliminated engine failure as the cause of a passenger plane crash in northern Saskatchewan.
All 25 people on board the West Wind Aviation plane survived, albeit seven with serious injuries, when it went down near the Fond du Lac airstrip after taking off on Dec. 13.
There was no explosion or fire on impact.
The Transportation Safety Board says investigators examined both engines at the crash site and recovered the flight data recorder. The recorder has been sent to a lab in Ottawa for further analysis, but investigators say preliminary results confirm the engines were running until the plane hit the trees and the ground.
“What we have learned so far is that the engines were operating up to the point of impact,” Eric Vermette, a regional manager for the TSB, said at a briefing in Winnipeg on Wednesday. “Our investigators are wrapping up the field phase of the operation and will be leaving once the aircraft is moved to a secure location.
“The examination and analysis phase is just starting and there is much work to be done.”
Vermette said they will also look at the fact all 25 passengers and crew survived.
“Part of the accident investigation is to look at the survivability of this accident,” said Vermette. “It is quite remarkable there was no fire, so that’s good news.”
They haven’t yet determined what caused the crash, but investigators are still looking at weather conditions, runway length, aircraft maintenance, pilot training and operational policies.
They are also weighing the luggage that was on board the flight, but have yet to conclude whether the flight was over its weight limit.
Vermette said there’s no timeline for investigators to rule on the cause of the crash.
“We take the time required to ensure that we do a thorough investigation,” he said. “We will take the time required to make sure we’ve looked at all aspects and report on those ….
“If we do come up with any safety deficiencies as part of our investigation, we won’t sit on it and wait for the report to come out.”
West Wind Aviation has grounded its other twin-engine ATR42-320 planes for the time being.
— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton
The Canadian Press