Blowing snow, winds at root of 2016 Gander Airport runway crash: TSB – Newfoundland & Labrador

An Air Canada Express flight drifted towards the right edge of a runway and struck compacted snow before breaking up in a crash at the Gander Airport in 2016, a Transportation Safety Board investigation has revealed.

Board investigators say blowing snow and gusty crosswinds contributed to the crash of an airplane operated by Exploits Valley Air Services at the Gander Airport during a storm on April 20, 2016. 

The Beechraft B1900 airplane, which was carrying 14 passengers and two crew, touched down on the right side of a runway in Gander. According to the TSB, it almost immediately veered further to the right and one of its landing gear struck a 10-inch bank of compacted snow.

That landing gear was damaged, the nose of the aircraft dropped towards the ground, and the propellers of the aircraft struck the ground, leading a number of the blades to break off of the aircraft. One of the blades plunged into the aircraft’s cabin wall.

“Blowing snow made it difficult to identify the runway centreline markings, and that the situation was exacerbated by the absence of centreline lighting and a possible visual illusion caused by the blowing snow,” the TSB said in a news release on Wednesday.

Three of the plane’s passengers were injured during the crash.

“Most of the injuries sustained by passengers were consistent with the upper body flailing forward due to longitudinal forces while jackknifing around the lap belt and hitting either the back of the forward seat or another surface,” the TSB wrote.

‘Lack of consideration’

The Transportation Safety Board also said the pilots of the EVAS aircraft did not properly consider all the risks on the flight from Goose Bay to Gander.

“Neither pilot had considered that the combination of landing at night, in reduced visibility, with a crosswind and blowing snow, on a runway with no centreline lighting, was a hazard that may create additional risks,” the TSB said.  “The crew also did not recognize that the gusty crosswind conditions had caused the aircraft to drift to the right during landing.”

Gander crash landing: Eyewitness video0:14

The crew was not aware that other airline carriers had cancelled their fights to Gander when they decided to proceed with the flight that night, investigators wrote.

The plane took off from Goose Bay, even though the visibility in Gander at the time was not at the level required for their landing approach, with the…

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