HALIFAX — Federal investigators say approach procedures, poor visibility and lighting issues led to the 2015 crash landing of an Air Canada jet that skidded along a Halifax runway and injured 25 people on board.
The Transportation Safety Board report says the crew aboard Flight 624 had set the autopilot at the correct angle of descent during a March 29, 2015, blizzard, but they did not notice wind had pushed the plane off its flight path.
The report says the crew requested that runway lights at Halifax Stanfield International Airport be adjusted to their maximum setting, but the tower controller was "preoccupied'' with snowplows on the runway and nearby aircraft on the taxiway.
"When the aircraft reached the minimum descent altitude for the approach, the flight crew saw some lights, which they interpreted as sufficient visual cues to continue the approach below the minimum descent altitude, expecting the lights to become more visible as they got closer to the airport,'' the TSB says.
Air Canada Flight 624 rests off the runway after landing at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on March 29, 2015. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
The report says "many factors'' caused the crash.
The flight crew was slow in recognizing the plane was too low because of "plan continuation bias.'' Air Canada procedures did not require the flight crew to monitor the aircraft's altitude and distance to the runway, the TSB says.
"It was only in the last few seconds of the flight, after the pilots disengaged the autopilot to land manually, that they then realized that the aircraft was too low and too far back. Although they initiated a go-around immediately, the aircraft struck terrain short of the runway,'' it says.
The plane bounced into the air and crashed near the runway threshold before careening along the tarmac. An engine and the plane's landing gear were ripped from the airframe amid a shower of sparks and leaking fuel.
Photos released by the Transportation Safety Board show damage inside the plane.
The plane was "destroyed,'' the TSB says.
The TSB says that during the crash landing, the captain's head struck the glare shield, while the first officer suffered serious damage to the right eye when he struck the glare shield, because their shoulder harnesses never locked in.
It noted a flight attendant was injured by a coffee maker that came free of its base because its locking system was not correctly engaged.
"Because no emergency was expected, the passengers and cabin crew were not in a brace position at the time of the initial impact,'' the report says. "Most of the injuries sustained by the passengers were consistent with not adopting a brace position.''
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