Mark Clitsome, the TSB Director of Investigations (Air), briefs the media on the early stages of the Resolute Bay accident investigation. Ken Pole Photo
In the early stages of what is expected to be a year-long investigation of the August 20 crash of a First Air 737-200C on approach to Resolute Bay in the High Arctic, Transportation Safety Board engineers have begun retrieving data from the cockpit voice recorder and the 28-parameter flight data recorder. Mark Clitsome, the TSB Director of Investigations (Air), told Canadian Skies during a media briefing in Ottawa at the agency laboratories that investigation of the crash site had been delayed by a couple of days until RCMP had officially identified the 12 victims, including the crew of four, and the coroner had completed an initial review.
Three persons survived the crash, which evidently occurred as the aircraft was on an ILS/DME approach under a 200-foot cloud ceiling with three miles visibility in some fog and drizzle. The last radio communication with the aircraft occurred when it was approximately eight kilometres from the airport and the crash occurred 10 minutes later on a low hillside on line with the gravel runway.
The crash site is less than two kilometres from the community airport where, coincidentally, the TSB already had eight investigators deployed as part of Operation Nanook, a major Canadian Forces-led exercise which was immediately suspended so that personnel could assist with rescue efforts. Five more TSB investigators flew from Ottawa to begin recovery of the wreckage and eventual shipment to the TSB laboratories for some reassembly and detailed assessment. Boeing, as well as the engine manufacturer, Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney, and an official from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, are also assisting.
Flight 6560 from Yellowknife was a passenger-cargo charter and the aircraft, registration C-GNWN, was a 1975 model which initially saw service with Wien Air Alaska. It was acquired in 1998 by First Air, which began operations in the 1950s as Bradley Air Services and now is owned by Makivik Corporation, and which has seen its fleet expanded through acquisitions of Ptarmigan Airways and NWT Air.