West Wind Aviation grounded by Transport Canada

As the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) continues to investigate the Dec. 13, 2017, crash of a West Wind Aviation ATR42-320 in Saskatchewan, Transport Canada announced on Dec. 22 that it has suspended the company’s Air Operator Certificate.

Until West Wind addresses “deficiencies” the regulator has discovered in its Operational Control System, the company will be prohibited from providing commercial air services.

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In a press release, Transport Canada explained that an Operational Control System “ensures that a company’s day-to-day actions are compliant with safety requirements for things such as the dispatching of personnel and aircraft.”

The ATR42-320 departed the airport in Fond-du-Lac, Sask., with 22 passengers and three crew members on board. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft crashed into a wooded area less than a mile from the end of the runway, leaving an 800-foot trail of wreckage in its wake.

The aircraft was destroyed. Six passengers and one crew member sustained serious injuries, while 18 others were hurt. A 19-year-old passenger, Arson Fern Jr., later died in hospital on Christmas Day.

On its Facebook page, West Wind Aviation said staff was “devastated” to learn of Fern’s death. “We are all overwhelmed with sadness of this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers’ family and friends during this difficult time,” said the post.

The TSB has said the aircraft’s engines were operational to the point of impact and that the left side of the fuselage sustained the worst damage, rupturing around seating row number 3.

Shortly after takeoff from Fond-du-Lac, Sask., on Dec. 13, this ATR42-320 crashed into a wooded area less than a mile from the end of the runway. TSB Photo

Selected aircraft components were removed for further examination and testing in the TSB lab, including the flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder and emergency locator transmitter.

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Transport Canada identified deficiencies during a post-accident inspection of West Wind Aviation from Dec. 18 to 20.

“As a result, in the interest of public safety, Transport Canada suspended West Wind Aviation’s Air Operator Certificate and will not allow the company to resume its commercial air service until it demonstrates compliance with aviation safety regulations,” said a press release issued by the regulator.

Transport Canada said it will continue to monitor West Wind Aviation as it works to comply with aviation safety regulations.

Established in 1983, West Wind Aviation offers a range of aviation services including charter, cargo and scheduled flights. It operates from bases in Saskatoon, La Ronge and Stony Rapids, Sask., and is First Nations and employee-owned.

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