Sunday, January 7, 2018

West Wind Aviation, ATR 42-320, C-GWEA: Fatal accident occurred December 13, 2017 near Fond-du-Lac Airport (ZFD), Saskatchewan, Canada

Cameco moves charter flight business from company involved in Fond-du-Lac crash to subsidiary airline

Transwest Air to take over mining worker flights previously operated by West Wind Aviation

A West Wind Aviation plane parked at the company's Saskatoon hangar.

Cameco is no longer using West Wind Aviation — the company whose plane crashed in Fond-du-Lac, Sask, last month — to fly people to and from its mining and milling operations in northern Saskatchewan.

The move, deemed temporary, was confirmed by the uranium company on Saturday.

Cameco will instead use West Wind's wholly owned subsidiary Transwest Air. Both airlines are 80 percent owned by Athabasca Basin Development — a group of seven northern Saskatchewan communities — and Prince Albert Development Corporation.

Cameco says its shift in flight providers is temporary.

"We're still using Transport Canada-approved carriers and services from other carriers, all of which meet our own standards as well as those of the government," said Gord Struthers, a Cameco spokesperson.

"We conduct our own audits to make sure that they meet our own standards and expectations as well," he added.

"We have audited Transwest in each of the past two years and a further audit is planned for 2018."

West Wind already grounded

The company's switching of flight providers is hardly a surprise move, given that Transport Canada grounded all West Wind flights as of Dec. 22. The company had already voluntarily taken all of its ATR turboprop planes out of the air.

Transport Canada suspended West Wind's air operator certificate after doing an inspection of the Saskatoon-based airline following the Dec. 13 crash of a 44-seat West Wind ATR plane in Fond-du-Lac, 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

West Wind Aviation was inspected by Transport Canada and grounded after the December 13, 2017 plane crash in Fond-du-Lac.

One passenger on that flight died in a Saskatoon hospital two weeks after the crash.

During its inspection, Transport Canada found "deficiencies" in the system used by West Wind to track factors like a plane's maintenance history, the fitness of pilots to fly a plane and the weight of the aircraft after takeoff.

Transwest has its own air operator certificate and was not affected by Transport Canada's actions against West Wind.

What's next

Now the company has to give Transport Canada what's known as a corrective action plan. 

"In order to get their air operator certificate back, they're going to have to prove compliance and do so by virtue of their corrective action plan," said Greg McConnell, a former longtime Transport Canada inspector.  

Cameco's Struthers defended West Wind's flight record.

"Prior to the incident in December, they had an impeccable safety record. It's not the easiest flying conditions in northern Saskatchewan. It's a pretty challenging place to operate."

Domestic flight licenses suspended

A day after Transport Canada grounded the airline, the Canadian Transportation Agency took its own, essentially moot step of suspending West Wind's licenses for operating domestic flights.

This week, a red banner was added to the top of West Wind's website telling visitors that "air operations have been suspended until further notice."

This banner appeared on the top of West Wind Aviation website this week.

Neither its air operator certificate nor its licences for domestic flights had been reinstated as of Saturday, said Dennis Baranieski, West Wind's vice-president of business development and corporate services.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the Dec. 13 crash.

The investigation could take up to one year to complete.

Story and photos ➤

Aviation Investigation A17C0146

Collision with terrain

The following update contains facts that the TSB has been able to validate at this time. It contains no conclusions about the factors that contributed to the occurrence. The final investigation report will include an analysis of all relevant factors and provide the Board's findings.

The occurrence

On December 13 2017, a ATR 42-320 aircraft operated by West Wind Aviation as flight WEW282 departed Fond-du-Lac Airport, Saskatchewan (ZFD) for Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan (YSF) with 22 passengers and 3 crew on board. At 1812, shortly after takeoff, the aircraft collided with trees and terrain less than a mile west of the end of Runway 28. The aircraft was destroyed. Six passengers and one crew member sustained serious injuries. Eighteen other aircraft occupants were also injured. One of the seriously injured passengers subsequently died. The TSB is investigating.

Progress to date

An investigation team including air investigators and technical experts from the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa was deployed to the accident site. The team is wrapping up the field phase of the investigation, and will be leaving once the aircraft has been moved to a secure location. Selected components will be shipped to the TSB Lab for further examination and testing. So far the team has:

Completed the survey of the accident site while obtaining photographs of the site and wreckage, UAV/drone imagery and airport drawings

Surveyed the cockpit and obtained technical, operational and maintenance documents

Recovered electronic instruments and devices that contain non-volatile memory, including the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder and the emergency locator transmitter, which were transferred to the TSB Lab

Examined both engines of the aircraft

Conducted a partial examination of the cabin and seating arrangements

Conducted interviews with first responders, airport employees, crew members, passengers and other witnesses in addition to obtaining copies of eyewitness statements.

What we know based on the initial examination

The aircraft descended into trees and terrain.

The wreckage path was at least 800 feet long.

The aircraft was in an upright position, but tilted steeply to the right.

The left side of the aircraft appeared to be the most damaged.

The fuselage ruptured at about seating row number 3.

Engines were operating up to the point of contact.

Safety action taken

West Wind has halted ATR flights while it conducts an internal review of its operations.

Aviation Investigation A17C0146:


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Possible given they appear to be up at the crash site "less than a mile from the runway".