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News release

December 2012 accident in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, highlights need for improved safety for infants and children onboard aircraft

Winnipeg, Manitoba, 29 June 2015 – In its investigation (A12Q0216) into the Perimeter Aviation Flight 993 that crashed while landing in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, on December 22, 2012, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that the aircraft came in too high, too steep, and too fast, striking the ground 525 feet past the end of the runway after an unsuccessful attempt to reject the landing. The 2 crew and 6 adult passengers, secured by their seatbelts, suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious. A lap-held infant, not restrained by any device or seatbelt, was fatally injured.

"Every day, families board commercial aircraft with babies and young children, and the majority trust that, if something goes wrong, a parent's arms can restrain their child safely,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB. “In the case of severe turbulence, a sudden deceleration, or a crash such as this one, research has proven that adults are not strong enough to adequately restrain a lap-held infant just by holding on to them. And just like in cars, adult lap belts are not suitable to restrain young children. This accident saw an infant ripped from his mother's arms and killed in the subsequent impact, even though everyone else survived.”

In its report released today, the Board is issuing two recommendations aimed at making air travel safer for infants and children. First, it is recommending that Transport Canada require commercial air carriers to collect data, and report on a routine basis, the number of infants and young children travelling. Currently, these statistics are not available, and better data is required to conduct research, assess risks, and outline emerging trends related to the carriage of infants and children.

Second, the Board is recommending that Transport Canada work with industry to develop age and size appropriate child restraint systems for infants and young children travelling on commercial aircraft and mandate their use to provide an equivalent level of safety compared to adults.

“This investigation identified issues associated with pre-flight planning, crew communication and unstable approaches—but what stands out most was the tragic fate of the baby on this aircraft,” added Fox. “We think infants and children deserve an equivalent level of safety as adults on board aircraft, and that is why we are calling on Transport Canada and the aviation industry to take action. It's time to do right by our children.”

Approach-and-landing accidents are on the TSB Watchlist. The TSB continues to call on Transport Canada and operators to do more to reduce the number of unstable approaches that are continued to a landing.

See investigation page for more information.