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TSB issues this preliminary report on the on-going investigation of Air Canada flight AC 624 at Halifax

Air Canada A320 C-FTJP (04)(Crash Site) Halifax (TSB)(LR)

Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) (Ottawa) yesterday (March 30) issued its first information and preliminary report on the crash landing of Air Canada flight ACA 624 at Halifax, Nova Scotia early on March 29:

Transportation Safety Board (TSB) logo

Collision with terrain involving an Air Canada Airbus A320 at Stanfield International Airport, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The occurrence

On March 29, 2015, at approximately 1240 a.m., Air Canada flight ACA 624, an Airbus A320, on a scheduled flight from Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario (YYZ), to Halifax, Nova Scotia (YHZ), collided with terrain approximately 1100 feet from the threshold of Runway 05, eventually coming to rest about 1100 feet down the runway. There were 133 passengers and 5 crew members on board; all of whom exited the aircraft. Twenty-five people were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries.

What we know

The initial impact was significant and caused substantial damage to the aircraft. The main landing gear separated and the underside of the aircraft was heavily damaged (fuselage and wings). During this impact, the aircraft collided with a localizer antenna array – part of the instrument landing system – and became airborne again, travelling forward on Runway 05. There is an extensive debris field between the localizer antenna location and the threshold of the runway.

During the first day on site, Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigators documented the wreckage, the impact marks and the debris field. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) were recovered from the aircraft and have been sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario.

Investigation team work

The investigation team is led by the Investigator-in-Charge, Doug McEwen. Mr. McEwen has been an investigator with the TSB for 18 years. He is assisted in this investigation by experts in flight operations, air traffic services, weather, aircraft structures, aircraft systems, aircraft engines, and human performance.

Some of these experts come from within the TSB, but assistance is also being provided by the following organizations: Transport Canada (TC), NAV CANADA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Airbus, and France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses. This is a normal part of any investigation, as these experts play a key role in helping the team uncover and understand all of the underlying factors which may have contributed to the accident.

Watchlist

Although more analysis is required, this accident displays some of the characteristics of an approach-and-landing accidents which is on TSB’s Watchlist.

Next steps

The investigation is ongoing and the next steps include the following:

survey the impact and wreckage site
continue examining and photographing the wreckage
removing the aircraft from the runway to restore normal operations
gather Air Traffic Control voice and data recordings
conduct witness interviews
gather meteorological information
collect operational information from the aircraft
preliminary review of the recorders at the TSB Lab to assist field investigators
determine which wreckage to collect for closer examination
further examination will be at the TSB Lab
Communication of safety deficiencies

Should the investigation team uncover safety deficiencies that present an immediate risk, they will be communicated without delay so they may be addressed quickly and the aviation system made safer.

The information posted is factual in nature and does not contain any analysis. Analysis of the accident and the Findings of the Board will be part of the final report. The investigation is ongoing.

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.

Air Canada provided this Update #3 on the accident:

Air Canada logo-1

Air Canada confirms that all but one of the passengers and crew admitted to area hospitals for observation and treatment have now been released.

“We at Air Canada are greatly relieved that no one was critically injured. Yet we fully appreciate this has been a very unsettling experience for our customers and their families, as well as our employees, and we are focused on caring for all those affected. We will also fully cooperate with the Transportation Safety Board as it begins an investigation to determine the cause,” said Klaus Goersch, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Air Canada.

Additional Air Canada management personnel have arrived in Halifax to provide assistance to passengers and their families

No further details are available at this time, however Air Canada will provide regular updates on Twitter and on its webite at aircanada.com as warranted.

Family members who seek information about passengers on Flight AC624 may telephone Air Canada at 1-800-961-7099.

Flight AC624, an Airbus A320 carrying 133 passengers and five crew, was involved in an incident upon landing at Halifax International Airport, Nova Scotia. The incident occurred at approximately 00:43 AT Sunday March 29 (23:43 ET March 28).

Top Photo: TSB. Airbus A320-211 C-FTJP (msn 214), while a probable insurance write off, is largely intact after the impact with terrain and allowed for the safe evacuation of the airliner.

Air Canada flight AC 624 crash lands at Halifax this morning, 23 people taken to hospitals

Air Canada (Montreal) flight AC 624 from Toronto (Pearson) to Halifax, Nova Scotia with 133 passengers and five crew members made a hard landing and “exited runway upon landing at Halifax” shortly after midnight (Atlantic time) this morning according to a statement by Air Canada and media reports. Weather at the time was gusty winds, low visibility and light snow. The aircraft reportedly hit power lines.

Here is the statement:

Air Canada logo-1

Air Canada provides the following update on flight AC624, an Airbus A320, that was involved in an incident upon landing at Halifax International Airport, Nova Scotia. The incident occurred at approximately 24:43 AT Sunday March 29 (23:43 ET March 28).

The passenger list indicates the airplane was carrying 133 passengers and 5 crew members.

All passengers and crew deplaned the aircraft. Air Canada can confirm that 23 passengers and crew sustained non-life threatening injuries and have been transported to local hospitals for observation and treatment.

Air Canada personnel are currently on site providing assistance to passengers and additional Air Canada teams are on their way.

No further details are available at this time, however Air Canada will provide regular updates on Twitter and on its website at aircanada.com as information becomes known.

Air Canada will be cooperating fully with authorities in their investigation.

Later Air Canada issued this statement:

Air Canada confirms that all but one of the passengers and crew admitted to area hospitals for observation and treatment have now been released.

“We at Air Canada are greatly relieved that no one was critically injured. Yet we fully appreciate this has been a very unsettling experience for our customers and their families, as well as our employees, and we are focused on caring for all those affected. We will also fully cooperate with the Transportation Safety Board as it begins an investigation to determine the cause,” said Klaus Goersch, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Air Canada.

Additional Air Canada management personnel have arrived in Halifax to provide assistance to passengers and their families.

No further details are available at this time, however Air Canada will provide regular updates on Twitter and on its website at aircanada.com as warranted.

Family members who seek information about passengers on Flight AC624 may telephone Air Canada at 1-800-961-7099Call: 1-800-961-7099.

Flight AC624, an Airbus A320 carrying 133 passengers and five crew, was involved in an incident upon landing atHalifax International Airport, Nova Scotia. The incident occurred at approximately 00:43 AT Sunday March 29 (23:43 ET March 28).

Video Above: From The National.

Read the full report from CBC: CLICK HERE

Below Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-211 C-FTJP (msn 233), was delivered new to Air Canada on October 16, 1991. The aircraft is a probable insurance write off. C-FTJP sits between flights at the Toronto base before the accident.

Prop It Up: Nostalgic Tickets

Guest Editor Dave Nichols

Nostalgic Tickets

By Dave Nichols

My grandfather, Carle Morton, was an aviation pioneer.  If you tried to look him up on the internet, his name is not there.  (It was a kind gesture, though).  He was a very early cobalt, platinum, uranium level frequent flier, from the 1930s on.  Grandad became a true av fan, also.  His position as sales manager for a four-state area kept him traveling every week.  He rapidly chose air transportation to become more time efficient in an era when very few businessmen thought that way.  While his counterparts and competitors were on a train or behind the wheel on two-lane highways, Carle Morton was already there directing his local salesmen and closing contracts.  He had the ability to manage men and sell, the attributes of any successful sales manager.  Mobility and effectiveness justified the high cost of airline flying.

Even though some early airliners were rickety and safety records could make people pale, Grandad flew them all.  There were wooden Fokker Trimotors of TWA, squat Curtis Condor bi-planes of American, converted Lockheed Lodestars of Continental, Fords, Lockheed 10s, Fairchild 71s and Stinson A models.  The list went on and on.  Did you know the fabric covered, Stinson A trimotor had 2 and 1 seating?  The 1930s and early 40s was a time period when life insurance policies were voided if one flew on an airliner.  Passengers had to purchase aviation accident insurance at the airport.  Remember seeing photos of Mutual of Omaha counters?  He was a fearless flier but he bought the weekly policies to protect Grandma.

Carle saved his airline tickets, all of them.  That practice was basically for the Internal Revenue Service because Uncle Sam routinely audited traveling business people with larger expense accounts, just like today.  Long after the IRS would have been interested, he kept his airline tickets and folders.    They became living diaries with all sorts of notes written on the ticket folders.  Packets of tickets and folders were bundled by year.  When I was a boy, he would let me scrounge through those rubber band stacks of aviation history.  Flights on ghost airlines like Wisconsin Central, All American Airways, Chicago & Southern, Colonial, and his favorite: Pennsylvania Central Airlines.  He explained to me the evolution of air carriers, that “Whiskey Central” became North Central, AAA changed its name to Allegheny, C&S merged into Delta, Colonial was absorbed by Eastern, and PCA transmogrified into Capital.  My learning curve went into orbit.

He flew Capital Airlines more than any carrier.  Carle was flying them in the beginning when the corporate name was Pennsylvania Airlines, then modified to Pennsylvania Central Airlines.  He grew right with them.  There was a unique ticket:  Pennsylvania Airlines, 1933, Ford trimotor, Pittsburgh to Cleveland with a stop at Akron.  Yes, he said, the Ford vibrated like a washing machine.  Wow, a Boeing 247 trip on PCA from Harrisburg to Buffalo in 1938 for $11.00.  Grandad really enjoyed the maturity of Capital.  He loved the DC-3, was in awe of the 049 Constellation and even the DC-4 received decent praise.

Grandfather’s frequent use of Capital did not go unnoticed from that airline’s top management.  He had a signed and framed letter from Capital’s president, J. H. Carmichael, thanking him for flying a zillion miles with them.  Can you imagine 4 to 6 segments every week for 25 unbroken years!  Carle Morton’s picture appeared in a 1953 Capital print ad touting the benefits of using a city ticket office.  Grandad was on a first name basis with station employees at 10 locations.

I flipped through pristine ticket jackets and stubs from All American Airways (precursor to Allegheny).  Many flights were Pittsburgh to Altoona, Johnstown, Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg.  All DC-3s, each segment averaged $5.00.  All American’s DC-3s were newer than most and he appreciated that.

For nine months of the year, Carle’s Monday morning started with a Capital DC-4 from Erie,  Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh.  Watching that “four motor” lumber off the 4900 foot runway sent chills up my spine.  Capital later took the DC-4s off the Erie schedule because of marginal runway length.  From PIT, Grandad branched out to three states.  He would work with his sales force in a given area for several weeks then another territory would get a visit from Mr. Morton.  Grandad would come home every Friday evening, almost always on a Capital DC-3.  I leaned over the airport fence,  straining for a glimpse of the nav lights and listening for the first sounds of radial engines in the distance.  The passengers would emerge, all attired in suits, hats and overcoats.  This was the incubator of my aviation life.

He was not a pilot but rather a pure participant in the aviation experience.  Grandad pointed out to me the symphony of tugs, fuel trucks, ticket agents, dispatch, line mechanics and even the “honey wagon”.  Each piece had to fit in order to make it all work.  He introduced me to uniformed stewards who offered in-flight passengers Chiclets from silver trays.  I remember a visit to Capital’s operations in 1956 and listening to the ceaseless teletype machines and watching the ops guys place grease pencil markings on clear Plexiglas.

My grandfather kept a sort of flight diary on the backs of ticket folders.  He reminded himself that the Pittsburgh airport had great chocolate malts.  Morgantown and Wheeling,  West Virginia had no food at their airports.  Detroit-Willow Run had a good shoeshine stand where the price was only a dime.  He jotted down the names and phone numbers of taxi cabs and their rates.  Places to eat, and those restaurants to pass up, graced the borders of his ticket jackets.

There were some long trips sprinkled here and there within the ticket bundles:  United DC-4s and -6s to the West, TWA 049 and 649 Connies to Indianapolis, Kansas City and Albuquerque, and an all-day multi-stop flight to Atlanta on an Eastern Convair 440.  Here was a five-stop trip on a North Central DC-3 to the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Despite all the business flying he did and all the enjoyment he got out of aviation, when it came time for a vacation trip during the 1940s and 50s, he and grandma would usually drive.  Grandad was frugal and there weren’t many bargain fares available then.  He believed that aviation improved his business life but was too extravagant for personal vacations.  Isn’t that ironic?  If frequent flier programs had been in existence, the two of them could have flown free on all their vacations.

Grandad would occasionally plan a business trip routing in order to fly on a particular airline or aircraft for the first time.  He was on a number of “first flights”.  Capital Viscounts were a favorite of his.  The 745Ds came on-line in 1955.  First flight folders were found from Detroit to Pittsburgh and Buffalo-Detroit.  Carle would go out of his way to set up a Viscount trip.  Vickers had such a futuristic jump on everyone else.   He flew Capital right up until they merged into United in 1961.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. The Mid Atlantic Air Museum (Reading, PA) restored this Vickers Viscount 797 (N7471, msn 233) in the early 1990s in the 1947 livery of Capital Airlines but it has since been grounded. The turboprop airliner is seen at Washington (National) on July 10, 1993.

He told me many true stories of flying experiences.  His analogies of in-flight drama were sometimes dark but not terrifying.  With no onboard weather radar or air traffic control radar, accidental penetration into nasty weather happened.  Low and slow airliners got the worst of it.  I learned of ice being flung off propellers and into the sides of the fuselage.  The DC-3 could carry itself pretty well in icing, he would say.  He spoke of how tough it was on the stewards and stewardesses cleaning up airsick passengers while flying over the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains.  Grandad saw a ramp worker accidently walk into an idling propeller of a DC-4.  The employee was dismembered in front of scores of disbelieving eyes.

Grandfather retired when he was 70, still sharp as a tack.  He continued to fly occasionally on vacation trips.  His first jet flight was in the stack – the black non-fan exhaust of a TWA 707.  Reunions, graduations and weddings were all duly diaried with their appropriate tickets.  He outlived most of his large family of brothers and sister, and his beloved wife.  One by one he would be summoned to the somber occasion of a funeral.  Those later ticket folders bore comments in a shaking handwriting.

When I became a pilot I flew him in light planes.  He and I both enjoyed that immensely.  At age 93, Carle flew to Houston to visit my little family and see my daughter, Carrie, who was named after Grandma.  We went up in a Cessna 172 and later that day I escorted him to the control tower at IAH to observe air traffic action at a big city airport.

Grandad passed away at age 99.  He was incredibly healthy until he was 96; he had been a sprinter in college and maintained an athlete’s regimen.  Carle Morton was a well disciplined yet compassionate and giving man, quick with a laugh.  He was my mentor in so many ways.  Introducing me to  commercial aviation was a life enhancing act for both of us.  Those nostalgic tickets, his tickets, what memories they silently hold.

Write Dave Nichols at propitupblog@gmail.com

Read Dave previous articles:

Spring Break with Lake Central: CLICK HERE

What Allegheny Meant To Me: CLICK HERE

A Day with Southern Airways: CLICK HERE

Mohawk’s Incredible Weekends Unlimited: CLICK HERE