TSB examining 3rd runway overrun incident in 2 years at Halifax airport

Three investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are trying to determine why a passenger jet skidded off the end of a runway at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport over the weekend — the third such incident in the past two years.

WestJet Flight 248 landed in the midst of a snowstorm just after noon AT on Sunday and overshot the runway with 172 passengers and seven crew members aboard.

There were no injuries and it remains unclear whether the Boeing 737 was damaged when it came to a stop on a grassy area about 50 metres beyond the runway.

“There was preliminary information that there was no apparent damage to the aircraft,” board spokesperson Chris Krepski said in an interview Monday. “The maintenance organization for WestJet will take a closer look at the aircraft.”

Including the overrun on Sunday, there have been seven so-called “runway excursions,” or aircraft overruns at the Halifax airport since 1999, according to a database compiled by the board.

Investigation options

Krepski said the board has three main options as it looks at what happened on Sunday:

  • Conduct a comprehensive investigation and submit a full report with recommendations.
  • Submit a shorter report based on a limited probe.
  • Add basic details to its database if investigators determine there would be nothing to contribute to transportation safety.

“Right now, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada continues to gather information and we’ll assess that information to determine what the scope of an investigation might be,” Krepski said.

Runway 14 was reopened Sunday around 10 p.m. after the jet was towed away.

Of the seven runway mishaps reported since 1999, only one resulted in fatalities or serious injuries.

None of the 211 passengers and eight crew members was hurt and the Boeing 767 wasn’t damaged in the March 4, 2019, incident. (TSB)

Early on Oct. 14, 2004, an MK Airlines Ltd. Boeing 747 cargo jet crashed and burned after it overshot Runway 24 and failed to gain enough altitude on takeoff. All seven crew members were killed.

The board concluded inadequate training and crew fatigue contributed to that crash. An investigation determined a crew member failed to press the correct icon on a computer screen, which caused the plane to attempt an underpowered takeoff.

The most recent occurrence was on March 4, 2019, when the nose wheel of an Air Canada Boeing 767 with 211 passengers aboard slid off an icy runway as the jet was moving slowly toward the gates. The TSB found Runway 23 was so slippery, the jet spun 180 degrees as it was pushed around by a crosswind.

This cargo jet was to be loaded with live lobster and head for China, but it went off the runway upon landing in November 2018. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

On Nov. 7, 2018, a Boeing 747 cargo jet landing on Runway 14 failed to stop before it plowed through some approach lights and navigation gear. The SkyLease Cargo plane was badly damaged as it slid 210 metres off the end of the runway in rainy conditions. The board is still investigating that crash.

The other incidents reported by TSB are:

  • On April 24, 1999, an Inter-Canadian passenger jet was landing on Runway 33 in gusty winds when the plane veered to its left and its main landing gear went into the grass.
  • On Dec. 25, 2005, a WestJet Boeing 737 was landing on Runway 14 when its left wing tip and other parts of the wing hit the runway, causing some damage.
  • On Sept. 10, 2010, a small F-86 Sabre jet fighter hydroplaned on Runway 32 and lightly struck two threshold lights at the end of the runway.

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