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9th of January 2007

A British Aerospace Jetstream 31 (registered C-FBIP) was flying a scheduled Instrument Flight Rules flight from Grande Prairie, Alberta and Fort St. John British Columbia both in Canada on this day in aviation history, 15 years ago. Onboard 10 passengers and 2 pilots. The weather was far from ideal, Runway Visual Range fluctuating between 1800 and 2800 feet in blowing snow with winds up to 40 knots. The flight had taken off at 10.40 and the flight had progressed without trouble. The crew was told to maintain 12.000 feet ASL (Above Sea Level) and to enter a holding at the TAYLOR NDB (TAYLOR is the Final Approach Fix for an ILS Approach to Runway 29). At 11.09 the crew was cleared to leave the holding and start the ILS approach to runway 29 at Fort St. John.

The First approach was aborted as the aircraft was high on the final approach and a missed approach was flown, followed by a clearance from ATC to the TAYLOR DNB to start a second approach.

The incident aircraft (source

At 11.23 the flight was cleared for a second ILS approach to runway 29 at Fort St. John, the outbound leg from TAYLOR NDB was extended to give more time to ensure the aircraft was correctly established on the ILS. As the aircraft was progressing towards the runway the Final Approach Course was flown in accordance with the company Standard Operating Procedures, Flaps set to 20° and an airspeed of 130 knots. With the Captain as Pilot Flying, he was monitoring the approach on the cockpit instruments. The Co-Pilot became visual with the ground at 300 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). Shortly thereafter, as the Approach Lights came insight, the Co-Pilot announced this.

The Captain stopped his instrument scan, confirmed the approach lights in sight and decided, and called out, his intention to continue the landing. Flaps 35° was requested by the Captain, which was selected by the Co-Pilot who also checked the Reference Speed (Vref) on the Approach Reference Card clipped to the instrument panel. By the time he looked up they were so close to the ground that there was not even enough time to warn the Captain.

Approach chart to Fort St. John, Runway 29

In a nearly wings level position, the aircraft touched down on its left main landing gear, 320 feet (97 meters) short of the runway. Directly after the right-hand main landing gear, the left-hand main landing gear touched down, followed by the nose landing gear. The aircraft touched down in a compacted layer of snow 16 inched (40 centimeters) deep. The aircraft hit the last row of approach lights and bounced back in the air for a short while, touching down a second time 180 feet (54 meters) from the threshold. The aircraft continued to slide through the runway edge lights coming to a stop 380 feet down the runway on the right-hand edge of the runway. The belly-mounted cargo pod protected the fuselage from impact damage but the aircraft incurred some damage to;

  • Right-hand main landing gear broke off

  • Nose landing gear collapsed backwards

  • Both left hand and right-hand propellers were damaged by ground contact

As soon as the aircraft came to a stop the crew informed ATC and the aircraft emergency plan was activated. None of the occupants of the aircraft got injured in the accident.

The accident was investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (the full report on this accident can be found by clicking here), they concluded that the following findings to the cause and contributing factors led to the accident;

  1. Late configuration of the flaps to 35°, causing a destabilized approach and an increased descent rate in the final stage of the approach before reaching the runway.

  2. After the approach lights were seen neither pilot monitored the glideslope indication and the deviation of the flight path went unnoticed until impact

Additional findings were;

  • The crew rounded the decision height downward and did not apply any temperature correction for the temperature well below ISA, this led to a decision height possibly 74 feet below the published decision height

  • There were problems with the CVR recording of the Co-Pilot’s boom microphone channel, this did not have an effect on the flight or crew performance.

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