GN investigates Canadian North’s rough May 12 landing in CamBay
Canadian North was upset “for all the right reasons"
(updated, 12:30 p.m.)
Canadian North plans to resume jet service to Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk on May 17.
That’s after the airline stopped jet service to the two Kitikmeot communities May 12 after its 737 combi jet was damaged while landing in Cambridge Bay, forcing the company to bring in a Dash-8 to take over the route.
Before Flight 446 from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay, with 27 passengers and four crew members aboard, readied to land May 12, pilots took a report from operators in Cambridge Bay that the runway was fine to land on, Steve Hankirk, vice-president of operations at Canadian North, told Nunatsiaq News.
“But when they touched down, they found themselves in a lot of slush which tugged the aircraft to the right,” he said.
The pilots managed to keep control, but in doing so the jet drifted off to the north, Hankirk said, and a piece called a reverse bucket made contact with a small snow drift, picking up a bunch of snow and gravel.
Mechanics made repairs and inspected the engine, and the aircraft flew out May 15.
The Government of Nunavut did investigate the incident, Hankirk said May 16, and concluded “the runway condition was not as reported.”
The GN has taken “very clear action that we’re happy with, and they understand what the failing was, and [that] the runway was not suitable for landing, as reported to be.”
Hankirk said the situation could have been “more serious than it was,” because the snow drift — called a wind row — that the aircraft reversal ran into was “actually on the runway inside the runway lights”
“We landed on a condition that we wouldn’t land on,” said Hankirk, who praised the crew for doing an “excellent job.”
Canadian North was upset “for all the right reasons, so we had to move pretty quickly here to regain their trust,” Shawn Maley, director of Nunavut airports, told Nunatsiaq News May 17.
“That’s not how we do business,” Maley said.
The GN’s investigation found that the airstrip had been maintained 90 minutes before Flight 446 arrived on May 12.
But, given the weather that day, which included 30 kilometre/hour winds and soft snow, the airstrip’s condition — with a couple of inches of fresh slush — was “unacceptable.”
The “guys slipped up last weekend” and were “too early off the runway” said Maley, adding that runway surface condition reports need to be timely and accurate.
And maintainers need to get “equipment on the runway as close to flight time as possible.”
Since May 12, the GN has reviewed maintenance procedures at the Cambridge Bay airport. It’s flown in more experienced backup to provide airstrip condition reports to pilots as they come in and plans to put a technician on the ground to work with the maintainers at the airport.
“Normally Cambridge Bay is a very, very good site,” Maley said.
As for who will pick up the tab for the damages to the jet, that wasn’t discussed during meetings with Canadian North, he said.