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Home News Airline apologizes after safety board report on Fond-du-Lac plane crash

Airline apologizes after safety board report on Fond-du-Lac plane crash

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Airline apologizes after safety board report on Fond-du-Lac plane crash
First responders at the site of a West Wind Aviation ATR-42 aircraft crash near Fond-du-Lac in December 2017 (Facebook/Raymond Sanger)

Rise Air (formerly West Wind Aviation) President and CEO Derek Nice said lessons have been learned after the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) released its final report on a fatal 2017 plane crash near Fond-du-Lac in northern Saskatchewan. 

The TSB investigation report released on Thursday morning found the plane crashed almost four years ago because of ice buildup.

A West Wind Aviation ATR-42 aircraft crashed after takeoff from Fond-du-Lac due ice buildup on the plane. (Transportation Safety Board)

West Wind had failed to remove all ice from the plane despite warnings to the pilot causing it to crash soon after takeoff from Fond-du-Lac on route to Stony Rapids.

“I want to begin by accepting responsibility for the issues that led to this crash. We are sorry for the harm caused to the passengers and crew on that flight,” Nice said at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. 

“We’re determined that something like this can never happen again.”

The plane was carrying 25 people. All passengers survived the initial crash but 19-year old Arson Jr. Fern died in hospital after sustaining injuries during the accident. 

19-year old Arson Jr. Fern of Fond-du-Lac died in hospital after sustaining injuries during the accident. (Janey Fern/Gofundme)

“We’ve caused pain and suffering and we’re sorry for this. This has been a traumatic event that will never be forgotten,” Nice said. 

“We know this accident has shaken the trust you had in us and we’ve worked hard to win back your trust again and we’re working hard today so that we never lose it.” 

West Wind Aviation was already subject to enhanced monitoring before the crash due to Transport Canada’s safety concerns.

The airline said it was working with Transport Canada to update safety policies at the time of the crash.

Nice said the TSB’s final report was fair. He said the airline has learned since the incident and safety policies are now consistent with best industry practices approved by Transport Canada.

“As the TSB has established, in 2017 we were complacent as standards for operating in icy conditions were not what they should have been,” Nice said. 

“Today we meet or exceed all required safety standards. Safety has been embedded in our culture. It’s a part of my job description and it’s in the job descriptions for every one of our employees — we are a safe company.”

Nice said neither the pilot nor any of the crew members continue to be employed with Rise Air and declined to comment further out of respect for staff privacy.

“Our managers and employees have paid a personal cost, too,” Nice said. 

“Many have felt personal responsibility for what happened and there isn’t a day that goes by when what happened isn’t in our minds.”

He said the airline, which rebranded as Rise Air in 2021, has worked hard to win back public trust.

“We don’t measure the cost of this accident in dollars and cents,” Nice said. 

“Of course we lost revenue but far more significant for us was the impact on the trust of our customers and our employees and the damage to our reputation.”