On 29 March 2015, at approximately 1240 a.m., Air Canada flight ACA624, an Airbus A320, on a scheduled flight from Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport to Halifax collided with terrain approximately 1100 feet from the threshold of Runway 05, eventually coming to rest about 1100 feet down the runway.
There were 133 passengers and 5 crew members on board; all of whom exited the aircraft. Twenty-five people were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries.
The initial impact was significant and caused substantial damage to the aircraft. The main landing gear separated and the underside of the aircraft was heavily damaged (fuselage and wings). During this impact, the aircraft collided with a localizer antenna array – part of the instrument landing system – and became airborne again, travelling forward on Runway 05. There is an extensive debris field between the localizer antenna location and the threshold of the runway.
During the first day on site, Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigators documented the wreckage, the impact marks and the debris field. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) were recovered from the aircraft and have been sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario.
The investigation team is led by the Investigator-in-Charge, Doug McEwen. Mr. McEwen has been an investigator with the TSB for 18 years. He is assisted in this investigation by experts in flight operations, air traffic services, weather, aircraft structures, aircraft systems, aircraft engines, and human performance.
Some of these experts come from within the TSB, but assistance is also being provided by the following organizations: Transport Canada (TC), NAV CANADA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Airbus, and France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses. This is a normal part of any investigation, as these experts play a key role in helping the team uncover and understand all of the underlying factors which may have contributed to the accident.
Although more analysis is required, this accident displays some of the characteristics of an approach-and-landing accidents which is on TSB’s Watchlist.
The investigation is ongoing and the next steps include the following:
– survey the impact and wreckage site
– continue examining and photographing the wreckage
– removing the aircraft from the runway to restore normal operations
– gather Air Traffic Control voice and data recordings
– conduct witness interviews
– gather meteorological information
– collect operational information from the aircraft
– preliminary review of the recorders at the TSB Lab to assist field investigators
– determine which wreckage to collect for closer examination
– further examination will be at the TSB Lab
Should the investigation team uncover safety deficiencies that present an immediate risk, they will be communicated without delay so they may be addressed quickly and the aviation system made safer.