A Keystone Air Service aircraft had its landing gear down and its flaps partly extended when it crashed onto a frozen lake in northern Ontario this week, according to an initial report from the Transportation Safety Board.
The Piper PA-31 Navajo was flying from Winnipeg to North Spirit Lake, a first nations community about 400 kilometres north of Kenora. The aircraft burst into flames after it crashed, and four of the five people on board were killed.
The safety board’s initial report, released Friday, said the plane was just 1.1 nautical miles northwest of a North Spirit Lake runway when it crashed.
Investigators said they found heavy fire damage to the aircraft’s fuselage and the right wing area, and noted that the plane’s wreckage path is more than 100 metres long. They said they plan to look at the plane’s engines and propellers and examine its damaged instruments and radios.
Moments after the plane crashed near the North Spirit Lake airport, residents rushed to the scene of the accident in a bid to save the passengers inside. Desperate rescuers worked to douse the flames by throwing snow onto the burning wreckage, and some broke the ice in an effort to pump lake water onto it.
Keystone Air Service has had its air operating certificate suspended twice by over the past decade because of safety concerns.
The initial report does not provide any analysis of what happened to cause the crash. The safety board will release a final report, including analysis and findings after the investigation is finished.