First Air Flight 6560

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Date:
20.08.2011
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First Air Flight 6560 was a charter flight which crashed near Resolute, Nunavut, Canada, on 20 August 2011. Of the 15 people on board, 12 were killed, and three were injured but survived. The aircraft involved, a First Air passenger-cargo convertible (combi) Boeing 737-200, was flying within Canada, from Yellowknife Airport, Northwest Territories, to Resolute Bay Airport, Nunavut. It crashed approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) east of the Resolute Bay Airport runway.

The three survivors, a 48-year-old man, 23-year-old woman and 7-year-old girl, were medivaced to Iqaluit. The last radio call was received at 12:40 pm CDT (17:40 UTC), at which time the aircraft was, according to First Air, about 8 km (5.0 mi) from Resolute Bay Airport, and the aircraft crashed some 10 minutes later.

There are conflicting reports about the time of the accident. According to First Air and Transport Canada's Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System the crash occurred at 12:40 pm CDT (17:40 UTC). However, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada the crash happened an hour earlier at 11:42 am CDT (16:42 UTC) and 1 nautical mile (1.9 km; 1.2 mi) east of the airport.

Aircraft

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-200 registration C-GNWN. Ship 414 (serial number 21067) first flew on 2 May 1975 and was delivered to Wien Air Alaska on 14 May 1975.

Accident

The aircraft was operating as a charter flight from Yellowknife Airport, Northwest Territories to Resolute Bay Airport, Nunavut. It was carrying four crew and 11 passengers. The aircraft crashed on approach to Resolute Bay, killing 12 people. The weather at the time was reported to be poor. The Canadian Forces were conducting Operation Nanook 2011 nearby, which was about to simulate an air disaster in the Resolute Bay area and Royal Canadian Air Force firefighters were among the first to respond and reach the crash site locating three survivors. The fire chief, designated Red Leader, was informed that there were 15 people on board the aircraft. Red Leader reported that 3 survivors had been located and the search for others was being organized in accordance with rescue procedures. The other crew and passengers were found to have died on impact. The operation was suspended and those taking part assisted in the rescue efforts. One surviving passenger was admitted to the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, Nunavut for one day while awaiting medivac transfer to Ottawa. The other two surviving passengers were moved from Iqaluit to the Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario.

Investigation

The crash was investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. On 5 January 2012 a preliminary report was issued stating that the TSB listed the accident as a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). The report stated that two seconds prior to impact the crew began a go-around. At that time the crew had completed the landing checklist, the flaps were at 40, the aircraft was traveling at 157 kn (291 km/h; 181 mph) and the landing gear was down and locked. Both engines were in operation and producing power at the time. The aircraft had been following an ILS approach due to poor visibility, and post-crash investigation found the ILS system to be operating normally. In fact another aircraft landed 20 minutes after the crash of flight 6560 using an ILS approach.

On 25 March 2014, the TSB issued their final report on the crash. The conclusion of the investigation was that the aircraft missed the runway centerline signal during the autopilot-managed turn to final approach, but an inadvertent movement of the control column caused the autopilot to switch modes. As a result, the autopilot did not continue turning to re-intercept the ILS signal and instead leveled out. Due to being oversaturated with work in preparing to land, neither pilot noticed the change in the autopilot mode. The aircraft had a malfunctioning compass providing incorrect readings to the flight instruments (although the onboard GPS and ILS were providing correct information), causing the pilot to believe the aircraft was flying more toward the west and would cross the runway centerline again and re-acquire the signal. In fact the aircraft was flying roughly parallel to the runway and a wind from the southwest was pushing it even further to the east. The first officer raised the issue of an incorrect heading and suggested a go-around multiple times, but the captain ignored his suggestions. An attempt to make a go-around was initiated when the ground proximity alarm sounded, but there was insufficient time to gain enough altitude before impact.

The report called on First Air and Canadian regulators to standardize Crew Resource Management and improve training to prevent the failure of communications between pilots which ultimately caused the crash.

Dramatization

The Canadian documentary series, Mayday (also known as "Air Disasters", Air Emergency and Air Crash Investigation), aired an episode titled "Death In The Arctic" which documents the crash.

 

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Sources: wikipedia.org

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