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16th of December 1997

A Canadair CRJ100ER wash operating Flight AC 646 from Toronto to Fredericton in Canada on this day in aviation history. The weather for the destination was far from optimal, low visibility around 1/4 mile (400 meters) in fog, vertical visibility 100 feet (30 meters) temperature and dewpoint both at -8°C.

C-FSKI between the trees (Source

The flight and approach were uneventful and the weather, although marginal, was within limits for the aircraft to attempt a landing. At 200 feet (61 meters) altitude the crew had identified the runway and committed to the landing. At 165 feet above the ground, the Pilot Flying (PF) disengaged the autopilot to hand fly the approach and landing. With the autopilot disconnected the aircraft started to get high on the glide path and the commander (Pilot Monitoring) coached the PF to regain the flight path. Thrust was reduced to idle at 80 feet agl. At about the same time the Commander observed that the aircraft was drifting off the centerline. Together with the fact they were still in the air over the runway, the commander called for a go-around. The PF confirmed the go-around command and advanced the thrust levers and selected the Flight Director to go-around mode.

One second later the stick shaker activated while the aircraft reached 10º nose up, followed by the commander selecting the flaps to the g0-around. A stall protection alarm sounded and the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall.

The right-wing dipped and contacted the runway, rolled its wings level, and a short while later the right-wing hit the runway again, with the nose attitude approximately -12º.The nose landing gear broke off and all electrical power was lost. With the engines still at go-around thrust, the aircraft rolled on the mainwheels and left the runway. Hit a ditch sending the aircraft "flying" over a distance of approximately 1000 feet (300 meters) contacted a sandhill 1000 feet of the runway edge and finally came to a rest 1130 feet of the runway. A tree penetrated the cabin.

Picture of the cabin with the tree trunk (Source

The aircraft was evacuated, 7 of the occupants had to be extricated by the emergency services. Damage to the aircraft was extensive, although it remained largely intact.

Path of the tree into the cabin

As the aircraft was not equipped with and ELT and the conditions (snow / fog / darkness)

it took the rescuers 90 minutes to reach the wreckage. As the crew was unaware that pry-bars were part of the aircraft equipment they did not attempt to free the trapped passengers. of the 42 occupants, 9 were admitted to the hospital while others were discharged after a checkup with no or minor injuries.

An investigation was started by Transport Canada shortly after the accident, this extensive report is available by clicking here.

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