November 3, 2021

TSB report on fatal 2017 Fond-du-Lac crash highlights de-icing risks

Laura McLean

Aerial view of occurrence site (Photo: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with TSB annotations)

Transportation Safety Board of Canada on October 28 released its investigation report (A17C0146) and determined that the lack of adequate de-icing equipment and the practice of taking off without de-icing led to the fatal December 2017 accident involving a West Wind Aviation ATR-42 aircraft on the territory of the Fond Du Lac Denesųłiné First Nation in Saskatchewan.

Transportation Safety Board (TSB) explains that on December 13, 2017, an ATR 42-320 aircraft, operated by West Wind Aviation as flight WEW282, departed Fond-du-Lac Airport, Saskatchewan, for Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan. Shortly after takeoff, TSB explains the aircraft collided with trees and terrain about 450 m west of the departure end of Runway 28. The aircraft was destroyed and all 22 passengers and three crew members on board were injured, 10 of them seriously. One passenger died days later.

TSB determined early in the investigation that the aircraft took off from Fond-du-Lac Airport with ice contamination on the aircraft’s critical surfaces. The operator had some de-icing equipment available in the terminal building, explains TSB, but it was not adequate for de-icing an ATR 42.

In 2018, the TSB issued two recommendations following the occurrence. The first was aimed at making sure adequate de-icing and anti-icing equipment is available for those operators who need it (A18-02). The second urged Transport Canada (TC) to take action to improve compliance with the regulations to reduce the likelihood that crews take off with snow or ice contamination (A18-03).

“Although Transport Canada has said it agrees with the recommendations, and some steps have been taken, more action is required,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB. “Companies need to make more and better de-icing and anti-icing equipment available. TC must also increase the frequency of its targeted inspections. Until the TSB’s recommendations are fully implemented, what happened to this flight could still happen to other flights operating in Canada’s remote and northern airports.”