Cars and Other Vehicles

A Boeing 737 Landing In Arctic Conditions Ends In Tragedy | Death In The Arctic [Season Premiere]

First Air Flight 6560 is flying between Yellowknife
Airport and Resolute Bay Airport, one of the northernmost airfields in Canada to receive
scheduled passenger airline service. In command of the flight is Captain Blair
Rutherford. He was hired by first air in 1996 and has
accumulated a total of 12,910 flying hours. His copilot is first officer David Hare, which
was hired by the airline 4 years ago in September 2007. First officer David has 4,848 hours
of flight experience. The Captain is designated as pilot flying
for this segment, while the First Officer as the pilot not flying, also known as pilot
monitoring. During the climb and after levelling at FL310,
or 31,000 feet, the crew receives from a company dispatcher weather updates for Resolute Bay
airport. The crew and the dispatcher discuss deteriorating
weather conditions at Resolute Bay and whether the flight should return to Yellowknife or
divert to an alternative airport. Eventually, the crew and dispatcher jointly
agree that the flight would continue to Resolute Bay. First Air flight 6560 is a charter, flying
passengers and cargo to the small community of Resolute Bay. Resolute Bay is one of Canada’s northernmost
communities and is second only to Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island. It is also one of the coldest inhabited places
in the world, with an average yearly temperature of −15.7 °C. Resolute Bay is home to only
230 people, and it’s a major transportation hub for the high Arctic. Resolute Bay airport is the only one in the
region equipped with navigational aids for automated landing approaches, allowing for
large commercial aircraft operations. The aircraft operating First Air Flight 6560
is a Boeing 737-210C. To accommodate extra cargo, the cabin of this
Boeing 737-200 has been modified into what is known as a combi configuration (or combined
passenger-cargo). In addition, the aircraft is fitted with a
gravel kit to enable operations from unpaved runways, such as the one at Resolute Bay Airport. A gravel kit is a modification on an aircraft
to avoid foreign object debris, or FOD damage or ingestion while operating on unpaved surfaces. Modifications generally include methods of
preventing the nose gear spraying FOD into the engine and onto the underside of the fuselage
or wings and methods of preventing each engine from ingesting FOD from the ground directly
in front of it. The Boeing 737-200 left Yellowknife an hour
and a half ago, at 09:40 am. The flight is due to land at resolute bay
in approximately 30 minutes. After an uneventful flight and initial descent,
at 11:38 am the aircraft makes its final turn to line up with Resolute Airport’s runway
35, and the crew reports to be 10 NM away from it. Because of the heavy fog, the crew will be
relying on their autopilot during the approach. This way, the crew don’t have to worry about
lining up with the runway visually as the computer will do all the work until touchdown. On-screen, you can see the aircraft in clouds
approaching the airport and preparing to align with the localizer beam shown in purple. As the autopilot begins to align
the aircraft with the localizer beam, it slightly overshoots the centerline. At around the same time, the autopilot inadvertently
changes mode preventing it from correcting for this. As a result, the aircraft continues on roughly
parallel to the planned flight path. At 11:40 am, Flight 6560 begins its final
approach to the runway and, a few seconds later, the Captain lowers the landing gear. The aircraft is now descending through 1,000
feet above field elevation. During final approach, with the wind blowing
from the southwest, the aircraft is pushed further off course to the right. Over the next few minutes, the pilots are
busy getting ready to land and communicating with the control tower. The first officer mentions to the Captain
that they are off course and that preparations for landing are incomplete. Several times the first officer suggests to
go-around, climbing to a safe altitude to determine the next course of actions. The Captain thought is not convinced that
this is required and decides to continue the approach. 30 seconds later, the crew reports 3 NM final for
runway 35 and, shortly afterwards, the tower controller advises that the wind is now estimated
to be 150° at 7 knots, and clears the flight to land. Seconds later, the low altitude warning sounds. Too low terrain! Sink rate! As a result, the crew initiates a go-around. But it’s too late.
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