Thunder Bay

Ice accumulation cause of 2015 plane crash near Pickle Lake: TSB

Ice accumulation was the cause of a fatal 2015 Wasaya Airways cargo plane crash near Pickle Lake, according to a report released Thursday by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

Pilot killed in December 2015 crash of Wasaya Airways cargo plane

The Transportation Safety Board has released its report on a fatal 2015 Wasaya Airways cargo plane crash. (Transportation Safety Board)

Ice accumulation was the cause of a fatal 2015 Wasaya Airways cargo plane crash near Pickle Lake, according to a report released Thursday by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

The crash occurred on December 15, 2015, and involved a Wasaya Airways Cessna 208B Caravan carrying a load of cargo. The only person on board the flight was the pilot.

According to the TSB, the plane left Pickle Lake at about 9 a.m., heading for Angling Lake/Wapekeka Airport. Less than 10 minutes into the flight, the aircraft began descending, then made a sharp right turn.

Pilot killed in crash

The aircraft climbed again, then started another descent, finally colliding with trees in an elevated area known as Tarp Hill. The area is approximately two hundred feet higher than the runway at Pickle Lake.

The pilot, later identified as Capt. Nick Little, was killed, and the aircraft was destroyed.

The TSB report notes that there were no flight recording devices on-board.

Thursday, the TSB said that the performance of the aircraft was "consistent with operation in icing conditions that exceeded the capabilities of the aircraft;" the situation was exacerbated by the high takeoff weight due to the load of cargo.

"As the aircraft continued its flight in icing conditions, rather than returning to base, it experienced substantially degraded aircraft performance as a result of ice accumulation, which led to an aerodynamic stall, loss of control, and collision with terrain," the report states.

Pilots 'lacked important information'

In addition, "flying into forecast icing conditions was a company norm" for Wasaya, the TSB said, and although the company had conducted a risk assessment of Cessna 208B operations in known or forecast icing conditions earlier that year, the company had not yet implemented all of the findings. In fact, four of the company's five Cessna 208B aircraft were prohibited from flying in those conditions.

Therefore, "pilots lacked important information and tools for sound decision-making and for safe, efficient operations," the TSB report states.

Company has updated rules, procedures

The TSB notes that Wasaya has conducted two investigations since the crash, and made changes to several rules and procedures, including increasing minimum weather requirements for visually conducted flights.

Wasaya has also increased training time for Cessna pilots, tested a reporting system for icing encounters, and revised its anti-icing treatment maintenance schedule.