Transport Canada takes 'severe action,' grounds Manitoba's Keystone Air
Keystone Air previously suspended in June 2002 and again in February 2004
Keystone Air has had its operating licence suspended by Transport Canada — for the third time.
The company, which is headquartered in Winnipeg and flies out of the St. Andrews airport just north of the city, was grounded by the federal agency Oct. 9.
"This is a severe action that the department only takes when we identify serious safety deficiencies and must act to protect the public's safety," said spokesperson Sean Best. "Keystone Air Service may not resume commercial air service until it demonstrates to Transport Canada that it is in full compliance with aviation safety regulations."
The grounding came a month after a Keystone plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport near Thompson, Man., on Sept. 15. The crew turned the plane around after experiencing trouble but crashed into the trees about 1.6 kilometres southwest of the runway.
All eight people, six passengers and two crew members, on the aircraft survived the crash. A Transport Canada report on Oct. 1 said the wrong fuel type was put into the plane.
"Transport Canada conducted a post-accident inspection that focused on the company's operational control and quality assurance systems," said Best. "In aviation, an effective operational control system ensures that a company's day-to-day actions are compliant with safety requirements for things such as, for example, pilot training and the dispatching of staff as well as aircraft.
"Because Keystone Air Services posed an immediate and significant threat to aviation safety, Transport Canada took swift and firm action to protect the public."
The first suspension, which lasted 13 days, came after a twin-engine Piper PA-31-350 missed the runway at Winnipeg International Airport then ran out of fuel, crashing in the middle of the McPhillips Street and Logan Avenue intersection.
All seven passengers and several occupants of a vehicle on the ground were injured in the crash. A 79-year-old airplane passenger died in hospital from his injuries several weeks later.
The 2004 suspension lasted 18 days and was "based on significant safety concerns with the company's maintenance management system," according to the federal government's website.
Seven other incidents involving Keystone between 1986 and 2012 are listed on Transport Canada's website.