North

Buffalo Airways makes 'forced landing' 9 kilometres off Hay River runway

RCMP and Canadian Rangers dispatched to help to retrieve the two crew, who were safe, on all-terrain vehicles.

Pilots told air traffic control they were 'unsure' if they could make it back to the airport: TSB

A file photo of two Buffalo Airways aircraft. A Buffalo Airways aircraft landed off the runway in Hay River, N.W.T., on Friday. (Walter Strong/CBC )

A Buffalo Airways aircraft made a forced landing off the runway in Hay River, N.W.T., on Friday.

According to Katherine Defosse, Buffalo Airways communications director, the cause was a mechanical issue. She said the two crew members on board are safe.

The incident happened at about 8 a.m. Friday. Buffalo Airways 169, flying a DC-3, took off from Hay River to Yellowknife at 7:41 a.m., and then turned back toward Hay River. The aircraft headed for the airport but didn't make it.

The Transportation Safety Board says it is gathering information to decide whether it will send investigators.

It confirmed that moments before the landing the pilots told air traffic control they were "unsure" if they could make it back to the airport. 

The pilot made a "forced" landing five nautical miles (nine kilometres) from runway 32.

Emergency crews, rangers dispatched

The town of Hay River dispatched emergency crews as close as possible to the crash site, said Judy Goucher, the town's senior administrative officer.

Fire crews were notified of the crash this morning and were on standby roughly three kilometres from the plane, which is not available by road access.

RCMP and Canadian Rangers dispatched all-terrain vehicles to retrieve the two people from the crash site, she said. 

Ross Potter, the director of protective services for the Town of Hay River, said he was pleased to see RCMP, rangers and the town's first responders work together.

Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways, which operates World War II-era aircraft, was featured in History Television's Ice Pilots NWT. The airline operates passenger, charter passenger, charter cargo, firefighting and fuel services, according to its website.

Buffalo Airways has a history of hard landings and other incidents. The company's licence was suspended by Transport Canada back in 2015; it was reinstated the following year.

With files from Avery Zingel

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