A11H0002 (Resolute Bay)

Animation for landing approach of First Air flight 6560 Resolute Bay, Nunavut on 20 August 2011

On 20 August 2011, a Boeing 737-210C combi aircraft operated by First Air was being flown as a charter flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to Resolute Bay, Nunavut. At 1142 Central Daylight Time, during the approach to Runway 35T, the aircraft struck a hill about 1 nautical mile east of the runway.

For more information about this accident, visit the active investigation page.

Transcript of the video

A11H0002 (Resolute Bay)

On 20 August 2011, a First Air charter flight was travelling from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to Resolute Bay, Nunavut. This is an animation depicting the landing approach.

Onscreen, you can see the aircraft in clouds, approaching the airport, and preparing to align with a radio beam, known as a localizer, shown in purple.

As the autopilot began to align the aircraft with the beam, it slightly overshot the centerline. At around the same time, the autopilot inadvertently changed modes, preventing it from correcting for this, and so the aircraft continued on, roughly parallel to the planned flight path. As the wind blew from the southwest, the aircraft was then pushed farther off course to the right.

A compass error of roughly 17 degrees, meanwhile, meant the aircraft’s instruments were displaying an incorrect heading. This likely gave the crew the incorrect impression they would eventually intercept the beam.

Over the next few minutes, the pilots were busy getting ready to land and communicating with the control tower. The first officer mentioned to the captain that they were off course, and that preparations for landing were incomplete. Several times he suggested a “go-around”: climbing to a safe altitude to determine the next course of action. The captain, though, was not convinced this was required.

It was only when the Ground Proximity Warning System sounded in the cockpit that the crew took corrective action—but by then it was too late.