Pilots didn’t check fuel before crash of medevac plane in Manitoba
Pilots landed plane on frozen lake in April 2019
By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg
GILLAM, Man. — The Transportation Safety Board says the pilots of a medevac plane had many chances to notice there wasn’t enough fuel before they were forced to make an emergency landing in northern Manitoba.
The board’s report released Monday said the plane was expected to fly to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, from Winnipeg with a stop in Churchill, Man., in April 2019. A pilot, first officer and two nurses were aboard the Beechcraft B200 medevac operated by Keewatin Air.
The investigation found that before the plane took off, the captain asked if the aircraft was ready for flight, and the first officer replied that it was, not recalling the aircraft needed fuel.
“As a result, the aircraft departed Winnipeg with insufficient fuel on board to complete the planned flight,” the report said.
While in the air, the pilots didn’t check the fuel gauges during periodic scans of the cockpit, the report said. The report said they became startled when the fuel pressure warning light turned on.
Fuel emergency declared
The pilots declared a fuel emergency with air traffic control and began an emergency descent in Gillam, Man., about 735 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
“Still feeling the effect of the startle response, the captain quickly became task saturated, which led to an unco-ordinated response by the flight crew, delaying the turn towards Gillam and extending the approach,” the report said.
As the plane was landing, the engines lost power because there was not enough fuel and the aircraft was unable to make it to the runway. The pilots were forced to land the plane on the frozen surface of a lake short of the runway.
The landing gear legs were torn off by the impact and there was other substantial damage to the plane. None of the people on board was injured.
The Transportation Safety Board report said Keewatin Air did an internal investigation into the crash and issued safety bulletins to pilots and flight co-ordinators about checking fuel.