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Accident description
Last updated: 16 August 2017
Status:Final
Date:Monday 19 August 2013
Time:17:12
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-3C
Operator:Buffalo Airways
Registration: C-GWIR
C/n / msn: 9371
First flight: 1943
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 21
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 24
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location:Yellowknife Airport, NT (YZF) (   Canada)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Yellowknife Airport, NT (YZF/CYZF), Canada
Destination airport:Hay River Airport, NT (YHY/CYHY), Canada
Flightnumber: 168
Narrative:
A Buffalo Airways Douglas DC-3C sustained damage after colliding with terrain near Yellowknife Airport, Canada.
Prior to departure, Flight BFL168 was loaded with cargo and 17 passengers at the Buffalo Airways hangar. Passengers were processed through the Buffalo Airways terminal, where they checked in and dropped off their checked luggage. Passengers and their baggage were not weighed at the check-in counter. After the aircraft had been loaded, 4 last-minute passengers were boarded along with their luggage.
At the time of departure, the operational flight plan (OFP) was partially completed and did not reflect the number of passengers on board or the weight of the cargo. The crew did not receive a cargo manifest prior to departure.
At 17:08, BFL168 received take-off clearance from the Yellowknife tower controller and initiated the take-off run from runway 16 at the intersection of runways 16/34 and 10/28. The runway distance available from the intersection was approximately 5956 feet.
At 17:10, the tower controller observed heavy torching and smoke from the right engine and called to advise BFL168 of this observation. The tower controller received no response from BFL168. The crew of BFL168 was in the process of retracting the landing gear when a fire was observed in the right engine. An emergency engine shut down was performed, which included feathering the right propeller. As the right propeller was moving towards a feathered condition, it stopped feathering before reaching the full feathered position and returned to windmilling. BFL168 made a low-altitude right turn in an attempt to reach runway 10. The maximum height achieved by BFL168 was approximately 180 feet above ground level (agl).
While manoeuvring, BFL168 struck a stand of trees, about 30 feet in height, 690 feet southwest from the threshold of runway 10. The initial point of ground contact was 400 feet beyond the trees. BFL168's wreckage trail was parallel to and south of runway 10 and was about 330 feet in length. The landing gear and the flaps were in the retracted position. Due to the relatively low-energy impact, the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) did not activate.
Once the aircraft came to a complete stop, the flight attendant initiated the evacuation of the 21 passengers through the left-aft door. The flight attendant returned to the aircraft and moved some galley drawers that were blocking the cockpit, and confirmed that the flight crew was safe. The 3 crew members subsequently evacuated the aircraft. ARFF sprayed the aircraft with fire retardant foam as a precaution. The crew and passengers, none of whom were injured, remained at the site under the supervision of ARFF for approximately 60 minutes. They were subsequently transported back to the Buffalo Airways terminal building.

Probable Cause:

Findings as to causes and contributing factors
1. An accurate take-off weight and balance calculation was not completed prior to departure, resulting in an aircraft weight that exceeded its maximum certified take-off weight.
2. The right engine number 1 cylinder failed during the take-off sequence due to a pre-existing fatigue crack, resulting in an engine fire.
3. After the right propeller's feathering mechanism was activated, the propeller never achieved a fully feathered condition likely due to a seized bearing in the feathering pump.
4. The windmilling right propeller caused an increase in drag which, combined with the overweight condition, contributed to the aircraft's inability to maintain altitude, and the aircraft collided with terrain short of the runway.
5. The operator's safety management system was ineffective at identifying and correcting unsafe operating practices.
6. Transport Canada's surveillance activities did not identify the operator's unsafe operating practices related to weight and balance and net take-off flight path calculations. Consequently, these unsafe practices persisted.

Findings as to risk
1. If companies do not adhere to operational procedures in their operations manual, there is a risk that the safety of flight cannot be assured.
2. If Transport Canada does not adopt a balanced approach that combines inspections for compliance with audits of safety management processes, unsafe operating practices may not be identified, thereby increasing the risk of accidents.
3. If cockpit or data recordings are not available to an investigation, this may preclude the identification and communication of safety deficiencies to advance transportation safety.

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: TSB Canada
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 8 months
Accident number: A13W0120
Download report: Final report

Sources:
» CADORS 2013C3529
» SKYbrary 


Photos

photo of Douglas DC-3C C-GWIR
photo of Douglas DC-3C C-GWIR
photo of Douglas DC-3C C-GWIR
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Yellowknife Airport, NT to Hay River Airport, NT as the crow flies is 192 km (120 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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