Updated: May 13, 2022
A de Havilland DHC-8-311 (Dash 8) was operating a scheduled passenger flight between Toronto and Sudbury, both in Ontario Canada, on this day in aviation history in 2019. Onboard a crew of three, 53 passengers. The expected flight time for the flight was 48 minutes.
The damaged aircraft after recovery (Source and © TSB Canada)
The weather at Sudbury was below minimums for landing, so after 20 minutes in a holding pattern over Sudbury, the crew decided to return to Toronto. An uneventful flight back to Toronto followed and at 01.26 local time, the aircraft landed on Runway 23 of Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Once they had vacated the runway, and in accordance with their after-landing checklist, the crew feathered the left-hand propeller. ( Feathering a propeller means rotating the propeller approximately 90º so each blade is streamlined with the airflow, which gives minimum drag). ATC provided the crew with taxi instructions to their parking position at Gate 105 at Terminal 1.
At 01.27 (1 minute after the Dash 8 landed) a fuel truck had completed refuelling an aircraft on the cargo ramp on the northeast corner of the airport. The fuel truck was heading back to the offices of the refuelling company.
Aircraft and fuel truck after the collision (Source & © NTSB Canada)
At 01.33 while the aircraft was taxiing at a speed of ~10 knots (18.5 kph), following the taxiway centerline of Lane 6, the aircraft collided with the fuel truck which was travelling at a speed of ~21,5 knots (40 kph). The collision caused the aircraft to spin 120º to the right, causing the rear of the aircraft to collide with the rear of the tanker and bounce back slightly. The aircraft came to a stop ~100º to the right of the original taxi direction. Immediately after the collision the cabin attended made a Passenger Address and commanded all passengers to remain seated. Not all passengers obeyed that command. Du to the orientation of the aircraft and the tanker after the collision neither the flight crew could see the tanker, nor could the driver of the fuel truck see the aircraft.
Passengers opened the rear emergency windows, although the left one was closed immediately again. some passengers evacuated the aircraft without being instructed to do so via the right emergency window, the time 01.34. Less than a minute after the collision the aircraft engines were shut down and the Flight Attendant was instructed to start a rapid deplanement. Once she had the passenger door open, she smelled fuel and initiated an evacuation. During the evacuation 15 of the 56 occupants received injuries.
Routes taken by the Dash 8 (green track) and the fuel truck (amber track)
(Source & © TSB Canada)
The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, the fuel truck was repaired and returned to service.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigated the accident and in September 2020 they released their final report on the collision. The report is available by clicking here.
In their report, the TSB listed several findings as well as safety actions taken to avoid reoccurrence. Findings as to causes and contributing factors;
The limited field of view to the right of the fuel tanker driver’s cab caused by the front elevating service platform and its structural elements, along with the condensation on the windows, resulted in the driver being unable to see the aircraft in time to avoid the collision.
The captain had a clear field of view in the direction of the oncoming fuel tanker but the visibility was limited due to darkness, rain, and reflected light, and he did not see the oncoming tanker during the critical moments before the collision.
Damaged cargo door Close up of damaged nose section (Both pictures Source Twitter.com © Ryan Trahearn)