The survivors and some family members of the victims in last year’sFirst Air crash in Resolute, Nunavut are suing the airline, NAVCanada and the federal government for negligence. On August 20, 2011 a Boeing 737 crashed into a hillside close tothe community s airport. The crash killed 12 people, including thetwo pilots and two crew members. Three people survived.
Two separate lawsuits have been filed at the Nunavut Court ofJustice in Iqaluit. In one statement of claim, families of seven of the victims and thesurvivors allege the crash was caused by negligence. They’re suing First Air and NAV Canada, a private company based inOttawa that owns and operates Canada s civil air navigationsystem, as well as the Attorney General, who represents theDepartment of National Defence. They are claiming damages for their physical injuries andpsychological harm, as well as “pain, suffering and loss ofenjoyment of life.” 10 allegations of negligence The lawsuit lists seven ways in which the air traffic controllersfailed to do their jobs, and weren’t properly briefed about how tohandle civilian aircraft.
It says they didn’t have enough training,that there weren t enough air traffic controllers on duty tohandle the traffic and that there was confusion about theirresponsibilities. The documents specify that NAV Canada and DND should have done moreto warn the pilots that they weren t aligned with the runway andwere heading for the hill. Both lawsuits say First Air was responsible for the actions of thepilots who failed to realize the plane was not alligned with therunway and was heading into land; didn’t use the landing equipmentcorrectly; and didn’t communicate with air traffic controllersproperly. One lawsuit alleges DND, NAV Canada and First Air are “jointly andseverally liable” for damages. Knuckle Boom Truck Crane
The other lawsuit is from the widow of arctic scientist MartyBergmann, who was a passenger. Sheila Bergmann McCrae also said in her statement of claim the”accident was caused by negligence.” She does not list DND amongthe defendants but she includes the same allegations against NAVCanada and First Air. The alleged negligence claimed by plaintiffs includes failing towarn pilots the aircraft was not aligned with the runway andfailing to ensure the instrument landing system was working. The Transportation Safety Board stated in a progress report inJanuary that NAV Canada checked the ground-based instrument landingsystem equipment two days later and reported it was working. Itfound that at the time of the crash, the jet was structurallysound. Telescopic Boom Truck Crane Manufacturer
Another aircraft successfully landed 20 minutes later. DND set up temporary air traffic control tower The lawsuits say the Resolute Bay Airport is normally an uncontrolled airspace, meaning pilots land using instrumentsand don t usually use air traffic control services. The pilotsensure other aircraft aren t landing at the same time and plantheir approach to the runway. But on the day of the crash, the Canadian military was in Resolutefor Operation Nanook, a training exercise. The documents say DNDand NAV Canada had arranged for air traffic controllers to work outof the airport, “the details of [the arrangement] are presentlyunknown to the plaintiffs.” They set up a temporary air traffic control tower that included aground-based radar system. Wrecker Tow Truck Manufacturer
The lawsuit says air traffic controllersshould have been providing military aircraft and the First Air crewwith detailed information to prevent them from flying into thehill. But that didn t happen, the lawsuit says. “For reasons presently unknown to the plaintiff, the pilots ofFirst Air Flight 6560 failed to realize that they were descendinginto terrain until it was too late to take action.” Both groups want trials to be held in Iqaluit and they arerepresented by the same Yellowknife-based lawyer, Adrian Wright. Neither lawsuit specifies a specific amount of money.
First Air and NAV Canada refused to comment on either lawsuit. The families of the two pilots and the two crew members are notincluded in either lawsuit. Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board is still investigatingthe cause of the crash.