News release

Damage to wing from a tree strike likely contributed to the fatal 2013 crash of a float plane in the Northwest Territories

Winnipeg, Manitoba, 8 January 2015 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report (A13C0105) into a float plane accident that occurred in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The pilot, the only person aboard, was fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.

On 22 August 2013, at approximately 18:50 Central Standard Time, a float-equipped Transwest Air DHC-3 turbine-powered Otter left Scott Lake, NWT, on a flight to Ivanhoe Lake, NWT. The aircraft did not arrive at the destination and was reported overdue at approximately 21:00. The company notified the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, and a search and rescue aircraft was dispatched. The wreckage was located on 23 August 2013, in an un-named lake 10 nautical miles north of the last-reported position.

The Board made a number of findings as to causes and contributing factors. Among them were the facts that, during the approach to landing on the previous flight, the right wing was damaged by impact with several trees and that the damage was not evaluated or inspected by qualified personnel prior to the subsequent takeoff. The investigation also revealed that a number of stressors throughout the day disrupted the pilot's processing of safety-critical information, and likely contributed to an unsafe decision to depart and operate a damaged, uninspected aircraft. En route, the damaged aircraft departed controlled flight likely due to interference between parts of the failing wingtip acting under air loads, and the right aileron.

To enhance safety in its operations, Transwest Air Limited held discussions with its pilots concerning pilots' responsibilities to remove themselves from flight duty if they do not feel fit to fly. A Safety Directive was also issued outlining Transwest Air's expectation of compliance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and action to be taken in the event that an aircraft is damaged.

In November of 2014, the TSB announced that it would conduct a Safety Issues Investigation into Canadian air taxi operations to understand the risks that persist in this important sector of the aviation industry. The study will engage industry, the regulator and other stakeholders to gain a full understanding of the issues affecting air taxi operations. The Board may make recommendations to address any identified systemic deficiencies.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca