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Investigators comb through aircraft wreckage in Northwest Territories

By Skies Magazine | January 26, 2024

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 7 seconds.

The accident site, 0.7 nautical miles from the end of Runway 30 at Fort Smith Airport , Northwest Territories. TSB Photo

Investigators have released images of the wrecked fuselage of a BAE Jetstream 3212 aircraft that crashed just 0.7 nautical miles from the end of Runway 30 at Fort Smith Airport in the Northwest Territories, killing six people and leaving one person with serious injuries.  

Photos show the fuselage in a clearing near a thicket of coniferous trees. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has deployed a team of investigators to the site.  

Few details are available, but the TSB has labelled this a “class 3 investigation” that will analyze a “small number of safety issues.”  

The investigation has three phases: A field phase, an examination and analysis phase, and a report phase.  

During the field phase, investigators examine the occurrence site and wreckage, interview witnesses, and collect “pertinent information,” the TSB said.  

The examination and analysis phase involves reviewing pertinent records, testing components of the wreckage in a laboratory, determining the sequence of events, and identifying safety deficiencies. 

In the report phase, the TSB sends a confidential draft to people and corporations “directly concerned by the report,” who have an opportunity to dispute or correct its findings.  

Then, a final report will be released to the public. Class 3 investigations are typically completed within 450 days.  

The investigator-in-charge is Jeremy Warkentin, a regional senior technical investor based in Edmonton, Alta. Warkentin worked as an aircraft maintenance engineer, quality assurance manager and base/production manager before joining the TSB in 2017, officials said. 

Investigators say the aircraft, operated by Northwestern Air Lease Ltd., was conducting a flight from Fort Smith Airport to Diavik Mine Airport on Jan. 23, 2024.  

It carried two flight crew and five passengers and collided with terrain shortly after takeoff, investigators said. There was a post-impact fire, and the aircraft was destroyed.  

The Diavik diamond mine is located about 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, at the bottom of Lac de Gras, and it includes an open pit and underground mining activity.  

“We are feeling numb with the devastating news that we have lost dear friends and colleagues,” said Jakob Stausholm, CEO of Rio Tinto, the company that operates the Diavik mine. 

“I extend our deepest sympathy to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who have been affected by this tragedy … we will be working closely with authorities over the coming days, weeks and months, to support their efforts to understand the full facts of what has happened.”  

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