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First Air Flight 6560 Crash
August 21, 2011 5:03 PM   Subscribe

First Air flight 6560 crashed yesterday in Canada's High Arctic. Fifteen passengers were on board, including four crew and eleven passengers. All the crew members were killed in the crash, while three pasengers survived. The plane crashed five miles from the airport in Resolute. Rescue efforts began immediately, as hundreds of military personnel were in Resolute participating in the annual Arctic military exercise Operation Nanook, an operation which includes an exercise in which military personnel respond to a mock air disaster. As a result, military helicopters, medical personnel, Canadian Coast Guard, and local fire and medical crews were on site and ready to respond immediately.
posted by smitt (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
What caused it?
posted by hal_c_on at 5:18 PM on August 21, 2011


"A post from an anonymous First Air employee on the site chastised the “premature conjecture” and “uninformed postings” of other avcanada members. “Please allow us the time to grieve the loss of our dear friends,” it read."
posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on August 21, 2011


.
posted by Ardiril at 5:34 PM on August 21, 2011


In conclusion, if you're going to be in a plane crash, try to be in a plane crash during the annual Arctic military exercise Operation Nanook.
posted by kbanas at 5:37 PM on August 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


The low altitude of the wreckage and close proximity to the airfield is pretty consistent with crashes where there was some sort of problem with the final approach or a go-around. Disorientation, improper aircraft configuration, or instrumentation problems usually turn out to be the cause. The low clouds and fog were probably a big factor. But we'll really never know until the investigation moves forward and in my opinion there's not much to be gained from speculating beyond that... for all we know there may have been a mechanical issue or some other detail that we don't know about yet. Terrible news, and I wish the families, friends, and coworkers the best.
posted by crapmatic at 5:37 PM on August 21, 2011


Oh God...
posted by Mike D at 6:21 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


i toghut by now all planes and airports have ILS for fog conditions?
posted by elpapacito at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2011


.
posted by limeonaire at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2011


As a result, military helicopters, medical personnel, Canadian Coast Guard, and local fire and medical crews were on site and ready to respond immediately.

This was also important to survivors of UAL 232.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:40 PM on August 21, 2011


For a couple years, I worked on a PCSP-sponsored project and flew to our field camp out of Resolute. The facilities are home base for a huge number of researchers from around the world including National Geographic film crews, NASA crews working on Mars projects, biologists, archaeologists, etc. etc.

This is a huge tragedy for the small (~200 people) community and my condolences go out to them.

.
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2011


elpapacito: I don't know if you realize just how remote Resolute is... This is the airport.
posted by smitt at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2011


This bit from the National Post article above describes the conditions well "In Resolute Bay, however, the nearest airstrip is hundreds of kilometers away — usually beyond the fuel range of a loaded cargo plane. The Resolute Bay airport also offers few landing aids aside from a radio operator. Compared to a full-service airport in the “South,” it is little more than a patch of gravel flanked by few sheet-metal buildings."
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:51 PM on August 21, 2011


@Mike D: How horrific. That poor man. :( What must have gone through his head, I wonder? I hope he did not suffer. What a terrible, terrible thing.

.
posted by perilous at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2011


smitt: nope, I didn't until now(google maps link). God, in such dangerous conditions (out of range for alternative airport)...with no ILS and possible adverse weather conditions....horrible, horrible landing spot. Poor souls.
posted by elpapacito at 7:13 PM on August 21, 2011


wiat, the airport has ILS
posted by elpapacito at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2011


Does anyone know who the pilot and copilot were? I have a friend up in Canada working as a pilot, and while I don't think this is the sort of flight he typically works on, I'd like to confirm that he isn't among the victims.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:07 PM on August 21, 2011


Flying up north is such a dangerous activity, it's a miracle this doesn't happen more.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:18 PM on August 21, 2011


Mitrovarr: The only info I found is this line from one of the articles: "First Air president and CEO Scott Bateman told reporters in Yellowknife that the flight's captain was from Edmonton and three crew members were from Yellowknife."
posted by smitt at 8:50 PM on August 21, 2011


That's probably a good sign, I don't think my friend was originally from Canada.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:53 PM on August 21, 2011


According to one article, one of the victims was a researcher with the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf project. He works at the same department I do, and I imagine his skills were quite specialized and his knowledge unique. Not to mention, of course, who he was as a person. I feel badly for his colleagues arriving to this news at work tomorrow. I imagine there will be some sort of announcement.
posted by aclevername at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2011


the airport has ILS

And a gravel runway. I didn't know a 737 could land on a gravel runway.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:50 PM on August 21, 2011


.
posted by ODiV at 10:47 PM on August 21, 2011


737-200s are very commonly used in the north, even though they're an ancient variant of the 737, specifically because they have an optional gravel kit for landing on unimproved runways.

Here is the Aviation Herald's page on the crash.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:03 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sad news.
I can't help but think of my flights to and from Alert, Nunavut. Along the runway, there was wreckage from a crashed Lancaster (circa 1950), and you would here people talk about the Hercules that crashed in 1991 not far from the base. I remember thinking to myself, if I was ever going to die in a plane crash, the odds were pretty good that it would be in the arctic.
Needless to say, we made the voyage safe and sound.
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 7:15 AM on August 22, 2011


It was most likely a "circle to land" approach, flying the ILS 35T with the intention to break it off and fly a visual approach to the land in the opposite direction. See here for the approach plates, photos and informed conjecture. http://avherald.com/h?article=4419c56e&opt=0
Condolences to the survivors. An ugly crash.
posted by sea at 6:36 PM on August 22, 2011


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