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Engine failure forced Fort Simpson emergency landing

Engine failure forced two pilots to make an emergency landing during a flight from Nahanni Butte to Fort Simpson on Wednesday morning. The airline's chief pilot says the engines likely failed because of a problem in the fuel system.

TSB trying to determine reason both engines on Piper Navajo failed

A Piper PA-31 Navajo, like this one, had to make an emergency landing about 17 nautical miles south of Fort Simpson after both engines failed. The only people aboard were the two pilots, who escaped uninjured. (CBC)

Engine failure forced two pilots to make an emergency landing during a flight from Nahanni Butte to Fort Simpson on Wednesday morning.

"We still have to determine what happened," said Wolverine Air's chief pilot Jacques Harvey. "We know it was an engine failure due to probably a fuel starvation." 

Harvey says that could be from a frozen gas line, fuel contamination or something else that caused both engines to fail. The Transportation Safety Board will be trying to determine the precise cause of the engine failure.

"We'll be using aircraft maintenance engineers," said John Lee of the TSB. "They'll just go through the systems one by one to determine their functionality and if we can start to determine power was lost to their engines." 

Pilots followed procedure, lit a fire 'just in case'

The Piper Navajo aircraft sits abandoned in the bush about 15 nautical miles south of Fort Simpson. Harvey says the airline hopes to bring it back to Fort Simpson next week.

"Luckily its located on a flat area, fairly close to town here," he said. "It will require probably a heavy helicopter and few mechanics, lifting equipment. The aircraft is very fragile, that's when we knew they handled it really well because it doesn't have much damage except for the one wing."

The two pilots on board the aircraft walked away, uninjured.

According to an incident report filed with the TSB, the plane landed 17 miles south of Fort Simpson and half of the right wing broke off upon landing. The report says there was damage to both props.

"They were fine, they had already lit a fire just in case. They followed the procedure very precisely, on how to land the aircraft."

Harvey said the landing was so smooth an emergency locator beacon that's automatically triggered when a plane has a hard landing never went off. He says the damage to the wing was caused when it hit a small tree.

with files from Juanita Taylor

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