Fatal Occurrence 2010C3645
One dead, nine hurt in northern Alberta plane crash
Ryan Cormier and Hanneke Brooymans – October 26, 2010
One person is dead and nine others are in stable condition after a small plane carrying employees of BP Canada crashed Monday morning near a remote northern Alberta airstrip.
The nine survivors, described as having non-life-threatening conditions, were transported to hospitals in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Lac La Biche, according to Alberta Health Services.
The plane was carrying two pilots, one contractor and seven employees of BP Canada, a subsidiary of the global energy company. The plane was taking the employees to the Kirby Natural Gas project near Conklin, some 350 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, for a regular crew change.
BP Canada would not confirm if the dead person was one of its employees, and a company spokeswoman did not have any other information about the crash.
The plane left Calgary International Airport at 8:45 a.m. Monday and landed at Edmonton's City Centre Airport at 9:36 a.m., according to FlightAware, a company that offers free flight-tracking services of commercial and private flights.
The plane left Edmonton at 10:16 a.m.
Around 11:20 a.m., the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., was alerted. The plane's emergency beacon went off.
The plane crashed on landing just before it reached the runway at Kirby Lake Airport, southeast of the town of Conklin, said Chris Krepski, a spokesman with the Transportation Safety Board.
The plane, a twin-engined Beechcraft King Air 100, belonged to Kenn Borek Air, a charter company that operates out of Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.
Two of the injured went to Fort McMurray by helicopter, and two more went by ground ambulance to Lac La Biche. Fixed-wing planes took two others to Edmonton and three to Lac La Biche.
Wendell Umble, CEO of Alberta Central Airways, said they were called to respond to the accident, and sent two Twin Otters from the Lac La Biche airport to the crash site.
``We got the call and then one hour later we had one doctor, five medics and stretchers, enough for everyone at the scene.''
A Hercules search-and-rescue aircraft from Winnipeg was also sent, but it turned around mid-trip because it was not needed.
The Transportation Safety Board is dispatching two investigators. They were expected to arrive at the crash site Tuesday morning.
``The plane is substantially damaged,'' Krepski said.
The Kirby Lake Airport has a 1,500-metre airstrip, according to Canada Flight Supplement, the national airport directory.
``Up in that corner of the world, that's a pretty significant runway,'' said Tom Hinderks, executive director of the Alberta Aviation Museum and Edmonton Aviation Heritage Society. ``You could put a 737 down on that. That's a ton of room for a King Air.''
While the cause of the crash remains unknown, Hinderks said the King Air has a good safety record. He also said the plane is equipped to deal with bad weather, ``unless it's something really, really extreme.
``Mother Nature is always the boss when you're flying and sometimes she does things no one expects.''
Kenn Borek Air, a Calgary-based company, is known for its mid-winter Antarctic rescue flights. In April 2001 and September 2003, the company flew flights to rescue ill workers at a polar research centre in Mount Erebus, Antarctica.
Monday's crash follows two recent fatal crashes involving Beechcraft King Air 100s.
On June 23, mechanical problems caused a plane to crash shortly after takeoff from a Quebec airport, leaving seven dead, including the pilot and co- pilot. On Dec. 9, 2009, a plane owned by Quebec-based Exact Air crashed in a forested area in Quebec's Saguenay region, about 220 kilometres north of Quebec City, killing two crew members and one passenger.