Cessna in deadly N.W.T. crash was coming in for landing

Gerrit Vermeer, the lead investigator in charge of looking into what caused the crash, said two eyewitnesses saw the crash from the ground.

Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board en route to area; final report could take up to a year

The plane that crashed at Little Doctor Lake in the N.W.T. on Thursday was operated by Simpson Air in Fort Simpson. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

The Cessna 206 that crashed Aug. 16 and killed three people was coming in for a landing on the Little Doctor Lake, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

Gerrit Vermeer, the lead investigator in the board's investigation into the crash near Fort Simpson, N.W.T., said two eyewitnesses saw the plane go down from the ground.

Vermeer said it's still "very early" in the investigation, and a team is en route to the area on Monday. It could take up to a year to produce a final report.

Vermeer said an RCMP dive team arrived in the area over the weekend to recover the bodies from the lake. The bodies have been sent to the coroner. 

The plane — which was operated by Simpson Air — will be salvaged from the water Tuesday.

"I want to talk to people who were actually up in that area, talk to other pilots," said Vermeer.

The incident happened at Little Doctor Lake, west of the community of Fort Simpson, according to the N.W.T.'s Health and Social Services department. (CBC)

'Lovely' weather at time of crash

The investigation will look into all aspects of the crash, including the cause, safety history of Simpson Air, risks to flying float planes in the area, and the aircraft itself.

Vermeer said he is specifically interested in learning more about how weather patterns around Little Doctor Lake can affect flight risk.

The weather at the nearest airport — Fort Simpson — reported light and variable winds.

"It was a lovely day in Fort Simpson," he said.

But Vermeer said preliminary information indicates the mountain pass in the Little Doctor Lake area can act as a funnel for air mass, so he wants to know more about weather conditions the day of the crash.

The plane was carrying four passengers from Saskatchewan and Alberta on a day tour of Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park Reserve. Two of the passengers from Saskatchewan and one from Alberta were killed in the crash. Another passenger — a woman from Alberta — and the pilot, survived.

The N.W.T. Health and Social Services department told the CBC on Friday the two survivors were released from the Fort Simpson health centre without injuries last week.