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Rudder issues endangered air-ambulance flight: Transport Canada

Tow bar attached to aircraft during flight


(Canadian OH&S News) — An air-ambulance flight had to make an emergency landing in Moncton while on its way to pick up a patient in March, after a tow bar had remained attached to the aircraft and caused a rudder problem, according to an undated incident report from Transport Canada’s (TC) Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System.

The Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB) flight left from Greater Moncton International Airport on the early morning of March 3, according to the report. The Voyageur Airways Beech B200 aircraft was bound for Bathurst, N.B. to pick up a patient, but the crew noticed that the right rudder pedal was stiff during the approach to Bathurst. The crew decided to declare an emergency and conduct a missed approach as it turned back to Moncton, landing safely there at 4:48 a.m.

“There were no patients on board this flight, and no injuries were sustained to crew or flight nurses,” Yvon Bourque, ANB’s director of operations, told COHSN.

The crew also heard a noise from the nose-wheel section of the plane during the landing in Moncton, and the aircraft was shut down immediately after leaving the runway. It turned out that the tow bar — a metal bar that is usually about two metres long and helps a plane move from a hangar or apron to a runway before takeoff — was attached to the aircraft’s nose landing gear, where it had caused some damage to the landing-gear doors.

Local media reports have stated that the patient in Bathurst was transferred to the intended destination by land ambulance when the ANB flight could not arrive.

After the incident, Voyageur Airways Limited conducted an investigation to make sure that the event would not be repeated, according to Bourque.

“ANB was kept apprised of the investigative review performed, and we were satisfied with the results of the review,” he added.

TC later followed up with Voyageur on the incident and subsequent review. “The department is satisfied with the follow-up measures taken by the company,” said TC spokesperson Clay Cervoni.

Asked if the incident was preventable, Cervoni said that most incidents technically are. “Therefore, Transport Canada expects that air operators conduct flights in a safe manner and in compliance with all applicable regulations.”

The incident report indicated that the nose-gear doors and assembly would be replaced before the aircraft would go back into service.

“The safety of our patients, our medical crews and the flight crews is top priority for both Ambulance New Brunswick and our contracted air carrier,” said Bourque.

A previous ANB flight on Aug. 16, 2014 ended more tragically when the aircraft crashed in Grand Manan, killing the captain and a paramedic while injuring a nurse and a second pilot. An investigation report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, published on Feb. 12 of this year, speculated that the weather had made it difficult for pilots to detect visual references on the ground (COHSN, Feb. 16).