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Accident description
Last updated: 22 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 20 April 2016
Time:21:30
Type:Silhouette image of generic B190 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Beechcraft 1900D
Operated by:Exploits Valley Air Services
On behalf of:Air Canada Express
Registration: C-FEVA
C/n / msn: UE-126
First flight: 1994
Total airframe hrs:32959
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67D
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 14
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 16
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location:Gander Airport, NF (YQX) (   Canada)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Goose Bay Airport, NF (YYR/CYYR), Canada
Destination airport:Gander Airport, NF (YQX/CYQX), Canada
Flightnumber:AC7804
Narrative:
Air Canada Express flight 7804 sustained substantial damage in a landing accident at Gander International Airport, Canada.
The aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900D, was scheduled to depart Goose Bay Airport at 19:20 and arrive at the Gander at 20:54. The flight was operated by Exploits Valley Air Services.
Before departing, the captain checked the weather at Gander and the alternate airport, Deer Lake Airport (CYDF). The visibility at Gander was 1/8 statute miles (sm) in heavy snow.
The weather forecast for the time of arrival was wind 360° magnetic (M) at 35 knots, gusting to 55 knots; visibility 1/4 sm in heavy snow and blowing snow; vertical visibility 100 feet above ground level (agl). Starting at 22:30, the visibility was forecast to increase to 1/2 sm in moderate snow and blowing snow, and the vertical visibility was to improve to an overcast ceiling at 400 feet agl. A significant meteorological information (SIGMET) message was issued indicating severe turbulence below 3000 feet agl over an area of Newfoundland that included Gander.
The crew planned to conduct the instrument landing system with distance measuring equipment precision approach for runway 03 (ILS/DME RWY 03) at Gander.
The captain called the company's acting operations manager to discuss the potential operational impact if the flight had to divert to its alternate. At first, the intent was to delay the flight for an hour to wait for the snowfall intensity to diminish and for the visibility to improve. However, after speaking with the acting operations manager, the captain decided to depart as scheduled, anticipating that the weather conditions would improve by the time they reached Gander. The crew was unaware that other carriers had cancelled their flights to Gander.
The aircraft departed at 19:45 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. There were 14 passengers and 2 crew members on board. The first officer (F/O) was the pilot flying. While en route, the F/O indicated that he did not feel comfortable conducting the approach and landing due to his limited experience and the potential challenges associated with the anticipated weather conditions. The captain agreed to conduct the approach and landing.
During the flight, the crew received updated weather reports from both the Gander Area Control Centre and Gander Tower, which indicated an increase in visibility from 1/8 sm to 1/2 sm and a reduction in the snowfall intensity from heavy to light. The crew decided that the visibility was sufficient to conduct the approach as initially planned. The winds and blowing snow were not identified as concerns.
While the flight was en route, snow removal was in progress at Gander. The airport plows were focused on clearing the middle 120 feet of the 200-foot-wide runway. The plows had pushed the snow into windrows along both sides of the runway, about 60 feet from the centreline.
The crew contacted the tower controller for the runway surface condition report. The latest runway condition report for runway 03, taken at 2044, was as follows: 120 feet cleared width, 40% dry snow with a depth of 0.13 inches and 60% bare and dry; remaining width 100% dry snow with a depth of 4 inches; remarks - windrows along reported width with a depth of 10 inches.
The snowplows continued plowing the runway until about 21:10, at which point they began to plow a path for the aircraft to follow from the runway to the apron.
On the approach, about 12 minutes before touchdown, the aircraft began to encounter moderate turbulence through 5700 feet above sea level. This turbulence continued until landing and was significant enough that the passengers were experiencing discomfort.
Once the aircraft intercepted the localizer, control of the aircraft was transferred to the captain as planned. The landing gear was lowered and the flaps were set to full, as per the company's standard operating procedures.
At 21:24, the tower controller cleared flight 7804 to land and provided the crew with the current tower winds of 360°M at 36 knots, gusting to 44 knots. The crew acquired the runway approach lighting at about 800 feet agl, more than 2 nautical miles (nm) from the threshold.
At approximately 21:30, while on short final, the crew asked for a wind update. The tower controller informed the crew that the tower winds were currently unavailable and provided the last aerodrome special meteorological report (SPECI), which had been taken 18 minutes before. The SPECI indicated that the winds were 350°M at 29 knots, gusting to 41 knots.
In the landing flare, the captain asked the F/O to call out the heights on the radar altimeter to help them determine how high they were above the ground. Almost immediately, the 10- and 0-foot calls were made. There was no indication that the crew lost visual contact with the runway edge lighting.
At about 21:30, the aircraft touched down on its main landing gear (MLG) to the right of the centreline at a normal descent rate and in a relatively flat attitude about 2800 feet from the threshold. The crew was unaware how far to the right of the centreline they were when they touched down. Almost immediately, the aircraft veered to the right when the right-side MLG encountered snow. The nose landing gear (NLG) struck the windrow of compacted snow, which caused the NLG to collapse. As the aircraft's nose began to drop, the propeller blades struck the snow and runway surface. All of the left-side propeller blades and 3 of the right-side propeller blades separated at the blade root. A portion of a blade tip from the right-side propeller penetrated the cabin wall at floor level.
The aircraft slid down the runway, with the nose coming within 27 feet of the runway edge, before crossing back through the windrow toward the centreline.
The aircraft came to a stop about 14 seconds after touchdown on a heading of about 350°M. The nose was about 15 feet to the right of the centreline and 3400 feet from the threshold.
Once the aircraft came to a stop, the F/O opened the cabin door and evacuated the passengers. The captain shut down the engines. The tower controller did not have any ground radar and was unaware that the aircraft was stopped on the runway. The captain contacted the tower controller to report the situation and request assistance. The tower controller immediately activated the crash bell.
The first fire truck left the station within 1 minute of the crash bell being activated. About 2 minutes later, the plow drivers, who were cross-trained as fire rescue personnel, drove the remaining 2 fire trucks and the rescue vehicle to the aircraft.
Because the location of the aircraft was not known, the vehicles started at the north end of runway 03. They proceeded cautiously because of the reduced visibility from blowing snow and because the passengers were out on the runway. The first fire truck arrived at the aircraft about 6 minutes after the accident. In total, 3 fire trucks, 1 rescue vehicle, and 2 pickup trucks responded.
Once the firefighters established that there was no fire, the rescue vehicle and pickup trucks started transporting passengers to the terminal. Within 25 minutes of the crash bell being activated, all passengers and crew had been transported to the terminal. Three passengers sustained minor injuries. None of the injuries were attributed to the portion of the propeller blade that had penetrated the cabin.

Probable Cause:

Findings as to causes and contributing factors:
1. Neither pilot had considered that the combination of landing at night, in reduced visibility, with a crosswind and blowing snow, on a runway with no centreline lighting, was a hazard that may create additional risks.
2. The blowing snow made it difficult to identify the runway centreline markings, thereby reducing visual cues available to the captain. This situation was exacerbated by the absence of centreline lighting and a possible visual illusion caused by blowing snow.
3. Due to the gusty crosswind conditions, the aircraft drifted to the right during the landing flare, which was not recognized by the crew.
4. It is likely that the captain had difficulty determining aircraft position during the landing flare.
5. The flight crew's decision to continue with the landing was consistent with plan continuation bias.
6. During landing, the nosewheel struck the compacted snow windrow on the runway, causing the nose landing gear to collapse.

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: TSB Canada
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 5 months
Accident number: A16A0041
Download report: Final report

Classification:

Sources:
» CADORS
» Air Canada

METAR Weather report:
00:00 UTC / 21:30 local time:
METAR CYQX 210000Z CCB 33036G52KT 1/2SM R03/2800V5000FT/N R13/3000V5500FT/N -SN BLSN OVC007 M03/M04 A2930 RMK BLSN6SF2 /S33/SLP931=


Photos

photo of Beechcraft 1900D C-FEVA
photo of Beechcraft 1900D C-FEVA
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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 Goose Bay Airport, NF to Gander Airport, NF as the crow flies is 631 km (394 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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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