Bearskin Airlines – Solid Record in the Air
THUNDER BAY – The Bearskin Airlines crash in Red Lake came as the plane was on route from Sioux Lookout to Red Lake with a destination of Winnipeg. The aircraft, a Fairchild Metroliner, 19 seat airplane was approaching the Red Lake Airport to land on Runway 26 at about 6:34EST. The plane impacted the ground and caught fire. The two surviving passengers, a man and woman were able to get away from the burning plane. The man got out first, and was able to rescue the woman.
The man was then able to call for help with his cell phone.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has deployed a team to Red Lake.
The victims of the crash include the two pilots, both men. One of the pilots is a twenty-five year old male from Mississauga. The other pilot is a thirty-four year old.
The passengers who died are a 53 year-old female, a 53 year-old male, and a 64 year-old female all from Red Lake. Their bodies were located in the Fairchild Metroliner’s wreckage.
Bearskin Airlines has a solid reputation, and the Fairchild Metroliner is an aircraft with a solid record according to sources. The Metroliner has capacity for a flightcrew of two, and passenger seating for 19 at two abreast.
The Transportation Safety Board reported on an incident in 1995, involving a Bearskin Airlines Metroliner:
Air Sandy flight 3101, a Piper PA-31 Navajo with one pilot and four passengers on board, had departed Sioux Lookout on a flight to Red Lake, Ontario. Bearskin Airlines flight 362, a Fairchild Swearingen Metro 23 with a crew of two and one passenger on board, was inbound to Sioux Lookout on a flight from Red Lake. The two aircraft collided at 4,500 feet above sea level, approximately 12 nautical miles northwest of Sioux Lookout. All eight occupants were fatally injured.
The Board determined that neither flight crew saw the other aircraft in time to avoid the collision. Contributing to the occurrence were the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid concept which preclude the effective separation of aircraft with high closure rates, the fact that neither crew was directly alerted to the presence of the other aircraft by the Flight Service specialist or by onboard electronic equipment, and an apparent lack of pilot understanding of how to optimize avoidance manoeuvring.
In 2004, there was another incident: Bearskin Lake Air Service Flight BLS342, a Fairchild Metro SA227-AC (registration C-FYAG, serial number AC-670B) had departed Kenora, Ontario, and was landing on Runway 11 at Dryden, with two pilots and ten passengers on board. During the landing roll, the aircraft went off the left side of the runway into deep snow. The aircraft was not damaged, except for two blown tires on the left main landing gear. The crew and passengers were not injured. The incident occurred during daylight hours at 1457 central standard time.
In the 2004 incident, the pilots followed the Standard Operating Proceedures. “The crew followed the guidance in the Bearskin Airlines Metro SA227 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to reduce the risk of brake freeze-up. They took no action to reduce the risk of loss of directional control on landing, nor were they required to do so by the SOP or the SA227-AC Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) produced by the aircraft manufacturer.
“The first officer (FO) was the pilot flying for the approach and landing at Dryden. The brakes were checked during the before-landing check, and no abnormalities were detected. The aircraft landed at 1457 on Runway 11, touching down on the runway centerline in the normal touchdown zone, at the correct speed, and in the correct landing configuration. The aircraft yawed to the left immediately at touchdown. The FO applied reverse thrust on the right engine and full right rudder”.