The 2013 Bearskin Airlines crash near Red Lake, Ont., that killed five people was caused by engine failure while the plane was just 150 metres off the ground, the Transportation Safety Board said in a report released Tuesday.

The Nov. 10 crash took the lives of both pilots and three passengers. Two people survived.

The TSB said the Fairchild SA227 Metro III, a twin-engine turboprop, departed Sioux Lookout normally and had been in communication with the appropriate air traffic officials en route to Red Lake, about 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay. 

The crew declared an emergency on its final approach. The plane struck trees and power lines on its way down and crashed at around 6:30 p.m. CST just south of the Red Lake Airport near Hwy 125.

The investigation discovered power loss in the left engine was "near total," and the crew had only 56 seconds between the time it malfunctioned and the time the aircraft struck the trees.

"The crew was unable to identify the nature of the engine malfunction, preventing them from taking timely action to control the aircraft," the report says.

Recovery was impossible

The crew lost control at an altitude where recovery wasn't possible, the TSB says.

Ross Peden, an investigator with the board, said a complex series of events led to the crash.  

"A safety system that's inherent in the engine design did not activate because the engine did not completely shut down," Peden said.

"Another fact was that because the engine didn't shut down completely the crew had difficulty recognizing what was going on. They had conflicting information on their cockpit instruments which we believe confused the issue and precluded them from taking timely and appropriate action."

TSB investigator Ross Pedon

TSB investigator Ross Pedon says a complex series of events led to the crash. (Submitted by Ross Pedon)

The board says the plane's landing gear generated higher drag, which contributed to the aircraft losing speed.

Peden said if the engine had failed at cruising altitude, rather than during the final landing approach, they "likely" could have continued to their destination safely.

The report says Bearskin Airlines, engine manufacturer Honeywell and Transport Canada have each taken steps to help prevent similar crashes from happening.

The board says the airline has since revised its procedures to ensure that the propeller on a malfunctioning engine does not cause excessive drag.

Honeywell, the engine manufacturer, has increased the inspection frequency on fuel nozzles and clarified inspection procedures.

Ontario Provincial Police identified the two pilots killed in the crash as Aniruddh Sawant, 25, of Mississauga, Ont., and Peter Traczuk, 34, of Winnipeg.

The three passengers who died — Anna Johannesson, 53, Peter Struk, 53, and 64-year-old Sharron Taylor — were all from Red Lake.

With files from The Canadian Press